Elbit Systems’ Brazilian subsidiary, AEL Sistemas, will supply the self-protection suite and directed, infrared countermeasures for the new Embraer KC-390 military airlifter, as well as the pilots’ head-up display (HUD) system, the companies announced late last month. AEL earlier was selected to provide the aircraft’s mission computers.
Important electronics content on the KC-390 demonstrates growing ties by Haifa, Israel-based Elbit within Brazil’s defense industry. AEL and Embraer Defense and Security have formed a joint venture, Harpia Sistemas, focused on unmanned aircraft systems. Earlier this year, AEL won a contract to supply the medium-altitude, long-endurance Hermes 450 unmanned aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force. In 2010, Elbit acquired Brazilian defense electronics suppliers Ares and Periscopio.
Now 25-percent owned by Embraer Defense, AEL was one of the first companies to provide systems for the Tucano basic training turboprop and subsonic AMX aircraft manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s, Embraer said. In addition to the mission computer for the KC-390, AEL supplies mission computers for the Embraer Super Tucano light attack turboprop and A-1M (modernized AMX) and F-5BR fighters. The KC-390 computer will host software that integrates mission systems including the tactical radar, self-protection suite, data link and computed air release point.
Of other AEL-supplied systems on the KC-390, the self-protection suite has “unique survivability requirements” against ground-to-air threats due to missions such as low altitude parachute extraction, airborne assault and air infiltration and exfiltration, Embraer said. It will be tightly integrated with AEL’s fiber optic laser-based directed infrared countermeasures system. Embraer has said the aircraft will have dual HUDs, which present flight information in the pilots’ field of view during all phases of flight. The head-down cockpit displays are being supplied by Rockwell Collins, based on the company’s Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics suite.
Embraer and the Brazilian government launched the KC-390 in April 2009 as a replacement for Brazilian air force C-130s. The Brazilian service thus far has committed to 28 aircraft, and Embraer reported a total of 60 “purchase intentions” for the new airlifter. Initial flight tests are planned for 2014 and deliveries in 2016.