Embraer brings KC-390 to Nigeria for demo flights

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Nigeria is the latest African country Embraer is courting with its KC-390 multi-role tanker/transport, demonstrating the aircraft to the Nigerian Air Force ahead of the World Defence Show in Saudi Arabia.

Flight tracking data showed the aircraft (PT-ZNG) arrived in Abuja on 27 January, and made demonstration flights to Kaduna before departing for Dakar, Senegal, on 30 January. The aircraft was on display at the World Defence Show 2024, which ran from 4 to 8 February.

Embraer instructor pilot Marco Aurélio Oliveira told Janes that his team had flown three to four days of demonstrations in Nigeria, showcasing the aircraft as a potential replacement for the Nigerian Air Force’s ageing fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules that has been in service since 1975.

Oliveira said the flights showcased the KC-390’s tactical air mobility, airdrop, paratrooper, search-and-rescue, and aerial refuelling capabilities, as well as its relative ease of maintenance.

The Nigerian Air Force is expected to take delivery of two C295 medium transports from Airbus, but there is a requirement for a larger transport, such as the Airbus A400M, Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, and Shaanxi Y-9. Janes reports a contract is expected to be awarded before 2025.

Embraer has previously demonstrated the aircraft to South Africa and Rwanda, amongst others. It estimates Africa will need 105 aircraft in the C-390 class over the next 20 years, with global demand for this category amounting to 490 aircraft.

In 2022, the C-390 toured two African and eight Middle Eastern countries, of which some had specifically asked to see the aircraft, indicating strong interest in the type. In November last year a KC-390 arrived in Rwanda before flying to South Africa where it was demonstrated to the South African Air Force and other government entities before departing for Ghana, via Namibia, arriving back in Brazil on 27 November.

Embraer is optimistic about C-390 sales globally, especially as military transport fleets are ageing. The C-390’s ability to function as an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) tanker (as the KC-390) adds to the type’s appeal. With a probe and drogue system, the KC-390 can transfer fuel to receiver aircraft using wing pods.

The C-390 can carry a 26 tons payload and flies at 470 knots/870 km/h.