Aerial tankers are in the news again.  South Korea has apparently selected the Airbus A330 MRTT over the Boeing and 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 the KC-46A. 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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