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Air Force to acquire 4 aerial refueling tankers by 2019

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean Air Force plans to acquire four aerial refueling tankers between 2017-2019 to extend airborne operations for fighter jets, a government source said Tuesday.

Airbus Military's MRTTA330 and Boeing's KC-46 are considered as potential candidates for the acquisition, the source said, asking for anonymity as the plan has not been confirmed yet.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration will approve the plan in a meeting presided over by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, which is slated for Aug. 12.

Seoul has long sought to deploy aerial tankers to refuel fighter jets in midair and help expand their operational range of F-15K and KF-16 combat jets.

The Air Force's plan to acquire refueling tankers has been delayed due to budget constraints. This year, the defense ministry included a tanker purchase plan in next year's budget, which is currently being reviewed by the finance ministry.

The budget plan needs parliamentary approval before being implemented by the government in fiscal year 2014, which begins on Jan. 1.

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