South Korea has decided to buy four military airborne refueling tankers from European aerospace giant Airbus Defense and Space for $1.3 billion.

Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Tuesday that Airbus edged out bids from the U.S. Boeing Co. and Israel Aerospace Industries in the competition to provide South Korea its first such tanker aircraft.

South Korea says the tankers will let its fighter jets cover larger areas within North Korea should war break out between the rival Koreas. Midair fueling will also allow South Korean jets to carry heavier ammunition and equipment.

Seoul says the four A-330 MRTT tankers from Airbus will arrive from 2018 to 2019 and will be able to fuel every type of fighter jet in the country's air force.