South Korea kicked off the acquisition process
in March to increase the range of its airborne operations amid
rising tensions in the region and with North Korea.
The bids, due Monday, saw the Boeing 767-based KC-46 pitted
against Airbus' A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd's [ISRAI.UL] entry of an
overhauled B767-300ER, the people said.
They declined to be identified as the matter remained
confidential. South Korea expects to close the deal by end of
Boeing and Airbus are in a global competition to fill various
requirements for refueling planes.
Airbus' A330 MRTT has been selected by six countries including
Australia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United
Kingdom, with the latest choice by Singapore for six planes in
March, according to the company.
In 2011, the U.S. Air Force chose Boeing's KC-46 to start
replacing its fleet of ageing KC-135 tankers, and plans to spend
$52 billion to develop and buy 179 of the refueling planes.
Tanker aircrafts are used to refuel fighter jets and other
warplanes during flight. South Korea expects the acquisition
will boost its fighter jets' airborne operation time by more
than an hour.
($1 = 1012.3000 South Korean Won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Miral Fahmy)
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