The South Korean military yesterday received its first Airbus A330 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft which will help extend the range of its fighter jets to better confront Japan and China which are in a dispute with Seoul over the Dokdo and Leodo islets.
The Air Force said Monday an A330 MRTT arrived at an air base in the southern city of Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province. The tanker plane is expected to become operational next month after undergoing a series of performance tests.
“Through the adoption of air refueling tanks, we can add more sorties to the fighters when they engage in missions in Dokdo and Ieodo,” an unnamed military official was quoted as saying by Korea Herald Monday.
According to the Air Force, F-15 fighter jets are only able to operate over the disputed regions for up to 30 minutes. If the fighters can be refueled on their way to the islets, the operational length can be expanded up to 90 minutes.
The Air Force plans to introduce three additional A330 MRTTs tankers next year. Manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space, the tanker is 59 meters in length, with a wingspan of 60 meters, and is capable of carrying up to 108 tons of fuel.