Airbus has beaten Boeing in a bid from South Korea as the country has decided to purchase 4 military airborne refueling tankers. The purchase grants $1.3 billion to the European aerospace company. In addition to beating Boeing, Airbus also outbid Israel Aerospace Industries in the tanker aircraft bid. The four A330 MRTT tankers will be delivered from 2018 to 2019 and will have the capability to fuel all fighter jets in the South Korean Air Force.
The procurement of the Airbus tankers will allow the fighter jets to cover greater distances within North Korea in the event of a war. The tanker’s midair capability also provides the South Korean fighter jets to carry heavier ammunition and equipment. Although South Korean has traditionally purchased essential military aircraft from United States-based companies, Airbus’s cost gave the company the competitive edge as the euro has weakened against the dollar since last year’s tanker bid. The South Korean acquisition agency spokesman, Kim Si Cheol, does not expect there to be any compatibility issues between the European Airbus tankers and the American-made fighter jets.
The A330 MRTT is a new-generation Multi Role Tanker Transport and is the only one that is completely certified, in operational service, and proven in combat. Initially produced in June 2007, the A330 variant is used for aerial refueling and transport purposes. Primary users include the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The A330 MRTT has a maximum fuel capacity of 245,000 pounds and can allow for 99,000 additional pounds of cargo. As a multipurpose aircraft, the A330 MRTT can be fitted with several systems including Airbus Military Aerial Refueling Boom System, Cobham 905E under wing refueling pods, Cobham 805E Fuselage Refueling Unit, and the Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation.
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