South Korea has started a process to acquire its long-desired four in-flight refuelling tanker aircraft in an effort to enhance the national air defence.
The estimated KRW1.4tn ($1.31bn) deal forms part of the country’s attempts to augment its air defence in wake of escalating tension in morth-east Asia over the maritime interests of Japan, China and North Korea, Reuters reports.
The South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a statement that the purchase will be made through a competitive bid process and bids will be accepted by the end of June 2014.
Two unnamed industry sources were quoted by the news agency as saying that Boeing is expected to bid with a model that is based on a Boeing 767-level aircraft, such as the KC-46 Pegasus, while Airbus Group is likely to offer its A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT).
Other companies are also anticipated to enter the competition with commercial aircraft overhauled as tankers, the sources added.
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A closed briefing is scheduled to be held by DAPA on 08 April to brief the bidders regarding the contract requirements.
Another source with direct knowledge of its requirements said the country aims to close a deal by the end of 2014.
The in-flight refuelling tankers are anticipated to enhance the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) fighter aircraft airborne operation time by more than one hour, the source added.
Scheduled to be acquired between 2017 and 2019, the new tankers will help extend the operational range of ROKAF’s F-15K and KF-16 fighter aircraft fleet, as reported earlier by Yonhap News Agency.