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.