SEOUL, July 1 (Korea Bizwire) – The Korean Air Force has decided to buy four of Airbus D&S’ in-flight tanker, the A330 MRTT, in a somewhat unexpected choice to pick a European and not an American aircraft.
Kim Si-cheol, a representative of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said on June 30 that the administration mulled over the choice of the Airbus or Boeing’s KC-46A, but the European model was evaluated by the Korean Air Force to offer more functional ability than the American plane, and had a more competitive price due to the weakened Euro.
The Korean Air Force had been planning to introduce 4 in-flight tankers and related facilities by 2019 through an investment of 1.48 trillion won (US$ 1.32 billion). With Airbus’ A330 MRTT, which is the largest next-generation in-flight tanker, the Korean Air Force is expected to have stronger combat efficiency.
Kim said that the Korean Air Force would be able to have a maximum radius of operations reaching Dokdo, Ieodo and Pyongyang. As combat planes will have more space available which used to be loaded with fuel, they are expected to be equipped with more weapons.
Airbus’ A330 MRTT is an in-flight tanker which was remodeled from the civilian A330-200 in 2007. One A330 MRTT can carry 111 tons of fuel, surpassing the maximum capacity of Boeing’s KC-46A. So far, 46 A330 MRTT tankers have been sold to the U.K, France, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
By J. W. Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)