Airbus Defence and Space has officially delivered an A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF).

The aircraft is ROKAF’s first Airbus A330 MRTT, which was selected in June 2015 as its future air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft after an ‘open and objective competition’.

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Boeing’s KC-46A Pegasus and Israel Aerospace Industries’ B767-300 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) also participated in the competition.

South Korea agreed to purchase four Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft under a $1.3bn deal. The remaining three units are expected to be delivered by the end of this year.

The aircraft completed ground and flight tests at Gimhae Air Base in Busan, South Korea, in November 2018 before handing it over to the air force.

“The A330 MRTT has clearly established itself as the world’s premier tanker and strategic transport aircraft, and has been widely praised by the current operators.”

According to Airbus, the new-generation the A330 MRTT will extend the endurance and range of the ROKAF’s fighter aircraft fleet. Based on the A330-200 airliner, the MRTT can carry up to 111t of fuel and offload 50,000kg of fuel in a four-hour loitering mission at more than 1,000nm.

Airbus executive vice-president Fernando Alonso said: “The A330 MRTT has clearly established itself as the world’s premier tanker and strategic transport aircraft, and has been widely praised by the current operators. It will be a critical asset of the ROKAF and leading air forces worldwide for many decades.”

The 59m-long A330 MRTT delivered to ROKAF is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and will offer strategic transport capabilities for passengers and freight.

Equipped with the Airbus refuelling boom system, the aircraft can be configured in a variety of layouts for passenger and freight transportation or medical evacuation purposes.

South Korea has now become the seventh country to operate the A330 MRTT. Airbus has so far received orders for the aircraft from 12 nations.

This latest delivery increases the total number of in-service aircraft worldwide to 35.

Last month, Airbus received an order from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to deliver an additional three A330 MRTT aircraft.