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Business

Airbus beats Boeing to supply South Korea's air-to-air tankers

European aerospace colossus Airbus won a $1.33-billion (1.2-billion-euro) deal on Tuesday to supply air refuelling tankers to South Korea. The A330 MRTT allows aircraft to take off with more weapons.

Deutschland Bundeswehr Luftbetankung eines Tornado ECR

German army refuelling a Tornado fighter mid-air

The A330 MRTT - a military derivative of the A330-200 airliner - was selected over Boeing's KC-46A, the military procurement agency in Seoul said, because of its price and performance as well as the amount of personnel and cargo it can carry. Israel Aerospace Industries also took part in the bidding process for the contract.

South Korea will buy four of the Airbus aircraft, for a total of 1.488 trillion won ($1.33 billion, 1.2 billion euros). The country joins Australia, Britain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Singapore in adopting Airbus' air-to-air refueling and transport aircraft.

South Korea's military air force procurement have overwhelmingly been met by US suppliers in the past - a reflection of their close military alliance. But European companies led by Airbus have also secured a series of military contracts.

In 2005, Airbus Helicopters won a contract for transport choppers called "Surion" in partnership with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). South Korea unveiled the first Surion helicopter in 2009.

In March this year, Airbus Helicopters inked a deal worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to build more than 300 civil and military helicopters for South Korea also in partnership with KAI.

bk/uhe (dpa, AFP)

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