South Korea is to build a heavy maintenance facility for the Lockheed Martin F-35, the third MRO facility for the type in the Asia-Pacific region.

The new MRO facility will be located at the country’s Cheongju air base, located south of Seoul in the central section of South Korea, according to a report by the Yonhap news agency citing the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

ROKAF F-35A in 2022

Source: Republic of Korea Air Force

A ROKAF F-35 takes off in 2022. Seoul operates 39 examples after losing one to a major bird strike incident

The DAPA says the local heavy maintenance facility will reduce maintenance time because F-35s will no longer need to be sent overseas for major overhaul work.

Yonhap cites sources as saying that the new facility will be ready by late 2027.

Seoul operates 39 F-35As, having lost one example to an accident stemming from a bird strike. It has signed a letter of acceptance with the US government to procure an additional 20 examples, with deliveries to run from 2027.

The other two heavy maintenance facilities for the F-35 in the Asia-Pacific region are located in Australia and Japan. Like South Korea, both nations are major operators of the type.

Cirium fleets data indicates that Australia has 63 F-35As in service. That number is set to grow to 72, and later possibly 100.

Japan operates 37 F-35As and is likely to become the largest operator of the stealthy type in the region, with plans to operate a total of 147 F-35s, comprised of 105 conventional take-off and landing F-35As and 42 short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs.