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KC-390 Military Transport Plane, Brazil

Posted by Tra Tran Hung trên Tháng Bảy 15, 2009



Key Data:

Estimated Investment
Order Date
14th April 2009
Estimated Completion


19 tonnes


Embraer, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, obtained an order from the Brazilian Air Force for its KC-390 medium-weight military transport jet on 14 April 2009. The new high-wing aircraft is expected to fly in 2012 and enter service in 2015. With the launch of the KC-390, competition in the 20t air transport segment has intensified.

Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica SA) has entered into a $1.3bn contract with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) to provide 23 planes over seven years. Features of the KC-390 will be in compliance with the new National Defense Strategy and meet the needs of the FAB. The new aircraft will replace 22 Lockheed Martin C-130E/H and KC-130 that are currently a part of the FAB.

Embraer president and CEO Frederico Fleury Curado said, “The launch of the KC-390 programme is a new landmark in the historical strategic partnership between the Brazilian Air Force and Embraer.”

“The KC-390 is a medium-weight military transport jet.”

He further stated that the development of the KC-390 will result in an effective cargo and tanker aircraft for the FAB, becoming another successful export platform for both Embraer and Brazil. The KC-390 is expected to change the tactical airlift landscape and will be a direct competitor to Lockheed Martin’s successful C-130J.

KC-390 technical details

The twin-turbofan-powered KC-390 can be refuelled in flight and can be used for in-flight or on-ground refuelling of other aircraft. The new 20t jet is technically advanced and has fly-by-wire technology, which optimises mission results thereby reducing pilot workload. It also helps increase the safety and capability for operating on short and rustic runways.

The military aircraft will have a cargo bay equipped with an aft ramp similar to Hercules, and capable of transporting a wide variety of cargo (weighing up to 19t), including armoured vehicles. It will be outfitted with state-of-the-art loading and unloading systems for handling cargo.

A study on the KC-390 (earlier named C-390) aircraft was presented at LAAD 2007. The research and development expenses of C-390 were $600m and shared among Embraer and various partners led by the FAB.

The twin-engine jet-powered Embraer KC-390 also integrates the technological solutions developed for Embraer 190 commercial aircraft. It is expected to carry 84 military personnel and the cargo cabin will be configured for transporting the wounded or sick, on medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.

“The KC-390 transport jet is the largest and most complicated aircraft ever undertaken by Embraer.”

Developing the KC-390

The KC-390 is the largest and most complicated aircraft ever undertaken by Embraer. It will also be the Brazilian manufacturer’s first new military product in more than a decade. It is expected to be assembled at Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto plant in Brazil.

Considering the delays in the production of Airbus A400M military airlifter and the time taken by Lockheed Martin to achieve full operational capability with the C-130J, both Embraer and its competitors say that developing KC-390 will not be easy. Although the Brazilian government will be funding, any delay in the development would weaken Embraer’s defence growth.

In the next two years Embraer will complete definition studies, freeze the configuration, and make supplier decisions jointly with the FAB. Participation of other countries and companies in this programme is being evaluated in consultation with the FAB.


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