SEOUL, June 30 Boeing and Airbus
were among three bidders in South Korea's roughly 1.4 trillion
won ($1.38 billion) programme to buy four refuelling tanker
aircraft, two people briefed on the matter said on Monday.
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 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 refuelling 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 refuelling 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)