South Korea opted to delay
the deployment of the future acquired tankers, as the selection process is taking longer than anticipated.
The Korea Herald confirms that Boeing (KC-46A 767), Airbus (A330 MRTT), and IAI (B767 MMTT) are all competing in Korea, but there's a hitch, as an unnamed DAPA official explains:
"We are nearing the tail end of our price negotiations. But the competitors' proposals regarding the [industrial economic] offset agreements are yet to satisfy our targets. Thus, there may be a delay in choosing the winner.... we are trying our best now in consideration of our best national interests. We may need at least one or two more months to finish negotiations."
Either plane type will have widespread support infrastructure, with about 1,000 planes of each type in global service. Boeing is touting the KC-46A's NBC hardening, interoperability with the USAF, and lower operating costs for a country that doesn't need the extra size and range. Airbus touts a more capable A330/ KC-30B platform that will actually be ready, and is already proven in regional service. IAI touts the 767's infrastructure and operating benefits at about half the cost of its rivals, freeing up funds for other military projects. On the flip side, they lack their rivals' easy resort to passenger airline production work for industrial offsets. Sources: Korea Herald, "Competition heats up for tanker procurement deal".
South Korea is moving to buy 4 long-range aerial refueling tankers with secondary transport capabilities, with a budget of WON 2 billion (about $1.8 billion). That capability isn’t a huge priority on the Korean peninsula itself, but it’s very useful for international operations. It’s useful as a way of projecting regional power, as territorial disputes flare with China.
As Asian economies grow and militaries modernize, these factors have made long-range aerial refueling a growing regional priority. China, India, Pakistan and China deploy the Russian IL-78. Japan fields 4 Boeing KC-767As, and may raise that to 8 under recent plans. Similar American KC-46As will join them in the region after 2017. Elsewhere in the region, Australia (5) and Singapore (4) picked Airbus Defense & Space’s larger A330 MRTT instead, and India looks set to buy 6 at some point. What will the ROKAF do?
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