Embraer’s Multinational KC-390 Tactical Air Transporter

Written by israelrafalovich · Filed Under Defense 

September 25, 2010


The global competition in the 20-ton air transport segment
continues to intensify, with Embraer’s launch of its KC-390
It will develop a jet powered transport that will compete with Lockheed
Martin’s C-130J,the larger Airbus A400M, Russia’s AN-12
and its Chinese copy YUN-8/9. Smaller aircraft like the
EADS-CASA C-295M and Alenia C-27J could also become
indirect competition.
Embraer seeks now to extend its efforts and markets by
crafting a jet-powered medium transport with cargo capacity
of about 25 tons, that can be refueled in the air, and can
provide refueling services to other aircraft by adding dedicated
The KC-390 has become a multinational effort.
The initial Brazilian contract calls for three development aircraft.
A 25-28 plane order is expected to follow, in order to replace
the Brazilian Air Force’s 21 C-130E/H and 2 KC-130H Hercules
Embraer’s schedule is an aggressive one. The KC-390’s initial
configuration is frozen, with the end of definition studies and
wind tunnel testing. Other foreign risk sharing partners would
likely ramp up their their own participation during the 12-month
follow-on Joint Definition Phase set to begin in 2011.
The first prototypes are expected in 2014.
Another emerging aspect of the program involves foreign partners.
Chile and Colombia have taken steps toward joining the program,
which would put the Brazilian military aviation industry at the
center of a Latin American network.
Until today, possible orders stands at 58, including Brazil 28,
Chile 6, Colombia 12, the Czech Republic 2, and Portugal 6.
On September 13th, The Brazilian and Czech Defense Ministers
signed an cooperation agreement for Aero Vodochody a.s. to
develop and build the KC-390.
The Czech Defense Ministry believes that they could end up
manufacturing the KC-390’s rear fuselage, doors, and wing
leading edges.
Argentina is also talking to Brazil. Brazils F-X-2 fighter
competition could also lead to European orders. France has
pledged to join the program and buy KC-390s if its Rafale fighter
wins. Sweden has promised to consider the KC-390 to replace
its recently-upgraded C-130s with the KC-390 if the JAS-39BR
The KC-390 will incorporate a modern, night vision compatible
avionics system, including two Head-Up displays(HUD), and
will use fly-by-wire technologies instead of all-mechanical
control system.
Key decisions will include the aircraft’s engines, which need
to be in the 27,000 thrust class. A number of commercial
aircraft engines from manufacturers like GE/Safran’s CFM,
Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls Royce could fit that requirement.
With the right engines thew Force Aerea Braziliera(FAB)
has confirmed that each aircraft will carry up to 80 troops, or
a 23.6 tonnes/26ton total cargo.
That surpasses initial expectations of 19 ton, and also places
it above competitors like Lockheed Martin’s C-130J.
In order to improve airdrop accuracy, the KC-390 will use
Computed Air Release (CARP) technology integrated with the
fly-by-wire system

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