The Republic of Korea has agreed to purchase four Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft for $1.3bn, strengthening the country’s Air Force capabilities.

South Korea selected the A-330 as its future air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft and the tankers are expected to be delivered from 2018 to 2019.

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Airbus said: "The decision means that the A330 MRTT has won every tanker competition (outside of US) since it entered the market and has now been selected by nine nations plus the European Defence Agency.

"We will carry out our contractual obligations faithfully and are looking forward to executing this programme in a timely and efficient way as we have done with other A330 MRTT contracts and to playing our role in the security of South Korea for many years ahead."

"The A330 MRTT has won every tanker competition (outside of US) since it entered the market."

The Associated Press reported citing South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration that the country has opted Airbus A330 after competitively evaluating bids from Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries.

Boeing had offered its KC-46A Pegasus platform, while IAI proposed its B767-300 multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT).

The A330 is the military variant of the civilian Airbus A330-200 airliner. It is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and is designed to perform air-to-air refuelling without any additional fuel tanks, as well as cargo, troop transport and medical evacuation missions.

The airliner is capable of carrying 256 passengers. It can be fitted with the aerial refuelling boom system (ARBS) to refuel receptacle-equipped aircraft, Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods for probe-equipped aircraft, and a Cobham 805E fuselage refuelling unit (FRU) for large probe-equipped aircraft.

Image: Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Airbus DS GmbH.