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Aerial tankers are in the news again.  South Korea has apparently selected the Airbus A330 MRTT over the Boeing KC-46A and Israel Aerospace Industries’ MMTT. The Koreans plan to buy four tankers for $1bn. First delivery is said to be in 2019.

South Korea joins many customers as A330 MRTT users while the US remains the only country to order the KC-46A. Brazil bought two MMTT.

The table illustrates how recent competitions have gone.  The Airbus MRTT is seeing a lot of interest. It is perhaps a surprise to some to see the MRTT has 65 orders to the 100 for the KC-46A.  The MMTT is not to be ignored as it is potentially a disruptive solution for those who need tanker capabilities at much lower cost.

Meanwhile Italy and Japan deploy the KC-767.  Colombia has one MMTT.  There a number of countries that have old 707-based tankers that will need to be replaced one day.  Omega Tankers, based in Ireland, operates 707s and believes they can be flown for many more years yet.  Tankers are a niche industry but because of the other things they are required to do (move people, carry specialized equipment) and their customers, they carry unusually big price tags.

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President AirInsight Group LLC

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