Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has signed a contract with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) for the KC-390 military transport aircraft programme that may, in time, involve South Africa.
The signing ceremony was held yesterday at the Latin America Aero and Defence (LAAD) trade fair, which is now taking place in Rio de Janeiro.
The event was attended by the Minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim, the Head of the Navy, Admiral Julio Soares de Moura Neto, the Brazilian Aeronautics Commander, General Juniti Saito, and Embraer President & CEO Frederico Fleury Curado.
“The launch of the KC-390 program is a new landmark in the historical strategic partnership between the Brazilian Air Force and Embraer,” said Fleury Curado.
“We are convinced that the development of the KC-390 will result in an effective cargo and tanker aircraft for the FAB and shall also become another successful export platform for both Embraer and Brazil.”
The FAB established the requirements for this aircraft, just as has occurred with other successful products manufactured by Embraer, like the Bandeirante, the Tucano, the aerial surveillance and remote sensoring versions of the ERJ 145, which are used in the Amazon Surveillance System and the Super Tucano.
Embraer says the participation of other countries in this programme will be evaluated, in conjunction with the FAB, and the aircraft is expected to enter service in 2015.
South Africa`s Denel Saab Aerospace is known to be interested and has discussed the matter with Embraer. But DSA CEO Lana Kinley told defenceWeb in February the talks were “nothing new” and has not yet resulted in anything concrete, partly as the C-390 programme itself had by then not yet graduated from the drawing board.
The KC-390 programme will contribute, in the short term, to maintaining highly qualified jobs, and, longer-term, it has the potential for generating significant export volumes with important aggregate value.
The existence of a study regarding this military transport aircraft was presented two years ago at LAAD 2007.
The jet will have a cargo bay equipped with an aft ramp, to transport a wide variety of types of cargo, including armored vehicles, and will be outfitted with the most modern systems for handling and launching cargos.
The new jet can be refueled in flight and can be used for in-flight or on-ground refueling of other aircraft. The cargo bay will allow configurations for medical evacuation missions.
The technical advances of the KC-390 include fly-by-wire technology, which lessens pilot work load by optimizing mission results and increasing safety and the capability for operating on short and rustic runways.