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South Korea selects KC-390 for acquisition

An Embraer rendering of the KC-390 shows the aircraft with the emblem of the Republic of Korea Air Force's 251st Tactical Air Support Squadron (of the 5th Tactical Transport Wing), which is based at Gimhae, near the southern city of Busan. (Embraer)

The South Korean government has announced that it has selected the Embraer KC-390 Millenium transport aircraft for its Large Transport Aircraft-II (LTA-II) acquisition programme.

The decision was made during the 157th Defense Acquisition Program Committee meeting on 4 December, according to the Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA). The procurement has a contract value of KRW710 billion (USD543.3 million). The purchase plan for the programme was originally approved during the 142nd Defense Acquisition Program Committee meeting in March 2022.

According to DAPA, the KC-390 was selected following the Defense Security Committee's deliberations. “The ‘Large Transport Aircraft II' is a project to secure additional large transport aircraft operated by the air force [Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF)] through overseas purchases to meet the peacetime shortage,” DAPA said.

It is unclear how many aircraft will be procured. A DAPA spokesperson told Janes that the acquisition number is confidential. The contract will be active through to 2026, according to DAPA. The contract makes South Korea the first Asian customer of the C-390, Embraer said.

Janes previously reported that three types of aircraft participated in the programme: the four-engine Lockheed-Martin C-130J-30 Hercules, the Airbus A400M Atlas, and the twin-engined Embraer C-390 Millenium. Data from Janes Markets Forecast indicates that the KC-390 is the most cost-effective option of the bidders, with a unit price of USD67 million.

Comparably, the data places the unit cost of the A400M transport at USD192 million. The C-130-J-30 has a unit cost of USD91 million.

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