Lines has been hired to do upgrades and other depot level maintenance on U.S.
Air Force F-16s stationed in South Korea. This is nothing new, and has been
going on for about three decades. When South Korea began using American jets,
it had a choice of setting up its own depot level (rebuilding and upgrades)
maintenance facility, or sending the aircraft to the United States (letting
Japan do it was not an option for political reasons). Since South Korea was
also investing heavily in its national airline, Korean Air Lines, it made sense
to combine as much aircraft maintenance work as possible in one operation.
Korean Air Lines became a public corporation in 1969 (it had done poorly as a
government owned entity), and one of the things the new owners were eager to
get was as much businesses, on the ground or in the air, as they could. For
example, since the late 1970s, over 500 American F-15s have gotten depot level
maintenance from Korean Air Lines. All South Korean Air Force jets have as
well, and now the most up-to-date American and South Korean F-16s are as well.
This situation is not
unique to South Korea. In Europe, a lot of American military equipment was
refurbished and upgraded locally. It was cheaper and more convenient, although
at times, Congress would make noise about taking jobs away from Americans. When
Congress was told how much more it would cost to "bring the work back home,"
they usually looked for other targets.