South Korea has received the second of four Airbus Defence and Space (DS) A330-200 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft ordered in 2015, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Seoul announced on 28 March.
The aircraft is expected to become operational with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) within a month, the MND said, adding that the two remaining platforms are expected to be delivered in November and December this year. The RoKAF officially introduced its first A330 on 30 January.
The tanker-transport aircraft, which is known as the KC-330 Cygnus in RoKAF service, is expected to extend the reach of the RoKAF’s strike aircraft into North Korea and improve strategic operations beyond the Korean Peninsula.
After examining rival proposals from Boeing, Israel Aerospace Industries(IAI), and Airbus, South Korea selected the A330 MRTT in 2015 in a deal valued at about KRW1.4 trillion (USD1.2 billion). Boeing had submitted its KC-46A Pegasus platform, while IAI proposed its B767-300 Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT).
According to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the A330 MRTT beat its rivals because of its superior performance (endurance, fuel capacity, personnel, and cargo capacity), its pricing, and the fact that it is already in service with several air forces around the world, as Jane’s reported at the time.
In late 2016 the US approved a possible USD141 million Foreign Military Sale of AN/AAQ-24(V) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) systems for installation on the RoKAF’s four MRTTs.
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