Embraer will soon freeze the design of its first purpose-built military transport, the KC-390, for tactical missions. Although the first flight is planned for 2014, some details remain sketchy. But at least the program seems well funded, with the Brazilian government providing most of the $2.2 billion needed for development.
Brazilian Air Force
Boeing and Embraer announced an extension of their April collaboration agreement on commercial aviation to the KC-390 airlifter program. The pair said they would “share some specific technical knowledge and evaluate markets where they may join their sales efforts for medium-lift military transport opportunities.” Boeing may help sell the KC-390 to “potential customers that had not been considered [as] initial market prospects,” they added.
In a ceremony at the Gavião Peixoto plant on June 19, Embraer marked three milestones as part of its activities to support the Brazilian air force. The most notable was the first flight of the first A-1 AMX upgraded to A-1M configuration. The A-1M is a refurbished aircraft upgraded with a number of new systems, including Mectron SCP-01 Scipio multimode radar, onboard oxygen generating system and an Elbit avionicssuite that includes a new glass cockpit and the Dash helmet-mounted display. Embraer is modernizing 43 aircraft to the A-1M standard in a program scheduled for completion in 2017.
With more than 100 of its executive jets operating in Brazil, Embraer has signed an agreement with the State of São Paulo that will see a modern service center established at Bertram Luiz Leupolz Airport in Sorocaba, approximately 55 miles from São Paulo. With an estimated investment of $25 million during the first five years of the project, the facility will generate up to 250 direct jobs.
With the award last summer of a $160 million contract to provide avionics for the U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aerial refueling tanker, Rockwell Collins (Booth Q79) became the primary avionics supplier for all USAF tankers. The U.S. manufacturer recently completed a fleetwide update of systems on the KC-135 Stratotanker, and will provide flight deck displays and other systems on its replacement, the KC-46A.
When the U.S. Air Force announced on December 22 that it had selected Sierra Nevada and its Brazilian partner Embraer as the winner in the competition to build a light air support aircraft, not everyone was happy, in particular Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft, a competitor for the same contract.
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.
The Brazilian Air Force formally introduced–at Salvador airbase on September 30–its first P-3AM Orion maritime patrol aircraft modified by Airbus Military. Brazil bought 12 former U.S. Navy P-3A aircraft 10 years ago, but delayed their introduction to service.
• Bombardier Aerospace announced it will open its first regional support office in Latin America by year-end. The full-scale RSO will be located in São Paulo, alongside the Canadian OEM’s already established parts depot and authorized service facility, OceanAir Taxi Aéreo. “To compete globally you have to be prepared to commit and deliver locally,” said v-p of customer services and support Andy Nureddin.
Rockwell Collins provided AIN with more details of the avionics for the Brazilian KC-390 military transport. The avionics company believes that Embraer’s recent choice represents a strategic win, since it is the first military application of the Pro Line Fusion suite.