South Korea launches Aerial Refuellers competition

SOUTH KOREA’S arms procurement agency, the Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), launched a competitive bidding process on March 31, for the acquisition of four aerial refuelling tankers for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) under the KC-X programme.  A closed briefing will be held by DAPA on April 8 to more precisely detail the requirements to interested companies.

Bids for the deal, estimated to be worth approximately 1.4 trillion won ($1.31 billion), are due in by 1800hrs on June 30.   DAPA is seeking to finalise a contract by the year-end and the ROKAF is looking to take delivery of the four tankers between 2017 and 2019.

Both Airbus and Boeing, offering the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport and probably a version of the KC-46A Pegasus, respectively, are expected to be the primary bidders.  However, other companies offering tanker conversions of commercial airliners could also compete for the requirement.

DAPA presented a report to the National Assembly on October 17, 2013, stating that it has allocated 6.9 billion won ($6.5 billion) from the 2014 defence budget to initiate the acquisition of four tankers for the ROKAF.  DAPA had earlier approved the plan for purchase of these aircraft on August 12, 2013, and the go-ahead for the project was officially granted at a meeting in November.

Korea had been seeking tankers for many years to extend the operational range of the ROKAF F-15K and KF-16 fighter fleet, but until now had been constantly thwarted by budget restrictions. Alan Warnes