Murphy's Law: Culture Shock and F-16s


October 25, 2007: The South Korea Air Force is having problems with its maintenance personnel. So far this year, its F-16s have had a readiness (for action) rate of only 60 percent. Its new F-15s had a readiness rate of 70 percent. These rates should be 80 percent or higher. The F-16s in particular had problems with their engines, and one aircraft was lost for that reason last February. American suppliers of aircraft components complain that South Korea maintenance personnel don't always apply fixes, or pull defective or worn parts when they are supposed to. Korean airlines have had similar problems with their aircraft maintainers. Some attribute this to the fact that South Korea has gone from a largely agricultural society, to a very high tech one, in just two generations. Not all South Koreans have caught up with the new habits required to do well in a culture dependent on advanced technology, rather than ancient agricultural methods. South Korea still has a problem in finding enough qualified people for all the high tech jobs their economy is creating. The military, which is 75 percent career troops, has a particular problem in competing with civilian jobs for technically skilled personnel. The civilian firms pay better, and don't have all the hassles and restrictions of military life.


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