Yonhap reported that South Korea is expected to send a Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) transport aircraft to Australia this week to import 27,000 liters of urea water solution, a military source said Tuesday, in an effort to ease a supply shortage of the fluid. The mobilization of the plane comes amid the government’s all-out push to tackle shortages of urea water solution, a key material used in diesel vehicles to reduce emissions. A KC-330 tanker transport plane is expected to take off at Gimhae International Airport in the southeastern port city of Busan on Wednesday.
During a regular press briefing, Boo Seung-chan, spokesperson of the defense ministry, said that though preparations are underway to ensure the KC-330 operation can begin as soon as possible, issues such as overflight clearance have yet to be worked out. South Korea’s military has mobilized the transport aircraft in a series of emergency operations, including the humanitarian mission in August to evacuate nearly 400 Afghan co-workers and family members to South Korea.
The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330.The A330 MRTT has a maximum fuel capacity of 111,000 kg (245,000 lb) without the use of additional fuel tanks, leaving space for 45,000 kg (99,000 lb) of additional cargo. The A330 MRTT cabin can be modified to carry up to 380 passengers in a single class configuration, allowing a complete range of configurations from maximised troop transport to complex customisation suitable for VIP and guest missions. The A330 MRTT can also be configured to perform Medical Evacuation (Medevac) missions; up to 130 standard stretchers can be carried.
On 30 June 2015, South Korea selected the A330 MRTT; the ROKAF planned to induct four tankers by 2020. The first A330 MRTT was delivered on 12 November 2018, after a ferry flight from Airbus’ final assembly line in Getafe, Spain to South Korea, piloted by a joint Airbus and ROKAF crew. Designated KC-330 Cygnus, it extends the endurance of ROKAF aircraft over remote areas such as Dokdo, Ieodo, and the North Pyongyang-Wonsan Line, as well as increase its ability to deploy overseas for international operations. South Korea received its first A330 MRTT in January 2019, and its second A330 MRTT in March 2019.