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S. Korean, U.S. air forces to hold aerial refueling drills

South Korean and U.S. Air Forces have recently reached an agreement to stage an aerial refueling exercise on a regular basis here, using a U.S. in-flight tanker, a military source said Monday.

The first joint refueling exercise in which the U.S. is to mobilize its KC-135 tanker currently based in Okinawa, Japan, is expected to take place in the latter half of this year, the source said.

“Although our main combat aircraft ― F-15Ks and KF-16s ― have an aerial refueling capability, they have never conducted any such exercise. We have agreed to stage the exercise every six months,” he said, declining to be named.

“Through the exercise, we will help some 10 of our pilots obtain a certificate for aerial refueling. The exercise will help them maintain their qualification as the certificate holds valid for six months. ”

The military has been seeking to purchase its own in-flight tanker. But the efforts have been impeded by the government stressing efficiency in the budget execution and seeking to reduce unnecessary spending.

The U.S. military is known to have some 530 KC-135 tankers. KC-135 with a maximum range of 5,500 kilometers can carry fuel of some 110,000 liters.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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