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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The sight of sleek jet warplanes soaring aloft and the deep booming of their engines is part of day-to-day life at South Korea’s biggest air base.

But for the next two months, those Air Force hallmarks will vanish from the skies over Osan as the Air Force shuts down the base runway for spot repaving.

“It’s common for airfields to degrade over time, so they need repairs,” said 1st Lt. Tom Montgomery, a base spokesman.

“Any time you have cracks or spalling — which is where fragments of concrete are coming loose — any time you have that, it creates a hazard because our jet aircraft could possibly suck that in.”

The $6.4 million project calls for spot repairs to the 9,000-foot runway, widening three taxiways and installing new lights and electric cables.

Work is slated from Sept. 18 to Nov. 18.

Two South Korean firms will do the repairs under contract to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, officials said.

In the interim, Osan will move its F-16 and A-10 warplanes to Suwon Air Base, a South Korean air force installation between Osan and Seoul.

U-2 spy planes will shift to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

But 33rd Rescue Squadron, Detachment 1 helicopters will continue to operate out of Osan.

Osan’s aircraft mechanics will take a bus daily to Suwon to work on their planes, Montgomery said.

“Our flight operations will maintain their current state of capability,” he said. “It’s just that we’ll be operating out of Suwon and Kadena.”

The aircraft will return to Osan once the project wraps up.

Runway work will be limited to cracks and worn areas cited in a base survey, said Capt. Jeff Lin, chief of construction management. Sixty concrete slabs will be replaced and other spots resurfaced, he said.

“Just enough to push the life of the runway out to another five to eight years,” Lin said. “It’s all the spot corrections that were pointed out to us in a survey about a year ago.”

Taxiways C, D and E will be widened from 50 feet to 75 feet, Lin said.

The runway and three taxiways will also get new lights and electric cables.

The project’s repair portion will cost $3.4 million, Montgomery said.

The lighting portion will cost $3.04 million.

Il Kwang Industrial Corp. Ltd. will do the paving; Shinsung Corp. Ltd. will complete the lighting and electrical work.


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