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S. Korea to decide on aerial refueling tankers in 2014

All Headlines 17:21 November 27, 2013

SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to move forward with the purchase of four aerial refueling tankers in 2014, which can greatly enhance the operational capabilities of its Air Force, the government said Wednesday.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a report to Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin that it has carefully reviewed the need to procure the tanker aircraft and decided to move forward with the process.

DAPA will officially announce the bidding in January for the up to 1 trillion won (US$943 million) project that aims to purchase four planes between 2017 and 2019.

DAPA insiders said Boeing's KC-767 and Airbus Military's MRTTA330 are likely contenders.

The use of tankers can allow planes to stay airborne for an hour longer and carry more weapons. Greater payload is made possible as a plane can take off with less fuel, thereby lightening its weight.

With midair refueling, South Korean F-15Ks can keep station over places like Ieodo and Dokdo islets for around 80-90 minutes compared with the current 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, DAPA said that it signed a 500 billion won deal with Taurus Systems, a joint German-Spanish firm, to buy long-range, air-to-surface attack missile. The Taurus missile has a 500-kilometer-range and gives the user the ability to strike pin-point targets deep inside hostile territories without putting the attacking fight at risk.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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