South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), in charge of arms procurement, has approved a plan to buy four refuelling tanker aircraft. The plan, which has long been delayed, is to open bids in February of 2014 and to select the winner in October 2014.
Leading candidates to extend the range of aircraft are Airbus Military's A330MRTT and Boeing's KC-46 aircraft. About one trillion South Korea Won or about $900 million has been budgeted for the purchase.
The refueling aircraft will help extend the operational range of F-15K and KF-16 fighter aircraft.Time on station could be increased by three to four times with refuelling in the air.
Meanwhile, South Korea will resume bidding from August 13 though August 16 for 60 fighter aircraft. Bidding had been suspended for the last six weeks because submissions were higher than the 8.7 trillion Won or $7.2 billion South Korean budget.
The Eurofighter Typhoon, F-15 Silent Eagle and F-35 Lightning II have submitted proposals and are expected the take part again. South Korea has stated that it will only proceed with the purchase if proposals fall within the budgeted amount.
If proposals again exceed the budgeted amount, the DAPA will start a new procurement project. The number of fighter aircraft could be reduced or the budget increased, but that requires going through the process of obtaining approval from the government which could take several months.