Brazil Commits to Embraer KC-390

 - August 6, 2010, 5:26 AM
Embraer suggests a global market of around 700 aircraft in the KC-390 class. The design is intended as a C-130 replacement in both tanker and transport roles. The Brazilian air force intends to buy 28 KC-390s. (Photo: Embraer)

During the Farnborough airshow in late July, the Brazilian air force announced its intention to acquire 28 Embraer KC-390 twinjet tanker/transports. First flight is expected in 2014, with service entry planned before the end of 2015.

New details revealed at the time include increases in overall dimensions and weight. Embraer now cites a maximum takeoff weight of 74.4 metric tons and payload of 23.6 metric tons. The fuselage is longer and the span of both wings and tailplane have been increased from earlier iterations. All preliminary testing has been completed, and the major design elements such as structure, systems and aerodynamics are frozen, according to Embraer.

A next important step will be the decision on the powerplant for the KC-390, if it has not been taken already. The IAE V2500 and CFM56 appear to be the lead options, and the final decision may be a political one, as the KC-390 program has been linked to Brazil’s FX2 fighter competition.

Two of the three FX2 contenders have signaled some commitment to the KC-390 if Brazil selects their fighter. France has said it will buy the KC-390–as well as participate in development–if Brazil acquires the Dassault Rafale. Sweden has announced that, as part of a Saab Gripen package, it would join the development effort for the KC-390 and evaluate it as a C-130 replacement, and consider a proposal to buy Super Tucanos to replace its Saab Sk 60 trainers.