Embraer reports strong Middle East regional interest in its A-29 Super Tucano light attack turboprop and progress toward the possible U.S. foreign military sale of six airplanes to Lebanon. The Super Tucano is making its Dubai Airshow debut, replete with a new paint scheme. It is parked on the static line opposite Embraer’s chalet, A7.
Speaking with AIN on Saturday, José Luis Molina, Embraer Defense and Security commercial senior v-p, said the U.S. sale to Lebanon under the Light Air Support (LAS) program appears to be concluded between the two governments. This would be the second sale of the LAS program, which calls for Embraer to supply Super Tucanos to American prime contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation for delivery to the U.S. Air Force. In June, the Pentagon notified the U.S. Congress of the potential sale of six armed A-29s to Lebanon in a transaction valued at $462 million.
“It seems that the deal is concluded,” Molina said of the government-to-government negotiations. “We are finalizing our internal agreements at this point. We hope before the end of the [airshow], everything is going to be finished.”
Under the LAS program awarded to Embraer and Sierra Nevada in February 2013, the Brazilian manufacturer will supply 20 Super Tucanos destined for the Afghan air force. Thus far the partners have delivered 12 of those airplanes, which Embraer assembles at a hangar facility at Jacksonville International Airport in Florida. They have also delivered all of the ground-based training devices, Molina said.
“This is a very emblematic sale for us because the requirements of the U.S. Air Force are very tough,” he said. “We are keeping the program on time. So far as we know, they are quite happy with the progress and the capability of the Super Tucano.”
Embraer (Stand 2260) has delivered more than 200 Super Tucanos to 10 air forces on three continents, including nearly 100 for its home country’s Brazilian Air Force. Current operators are concentrated in South America, Asia and Africa, where Embraer this year logged orders from the Republic of Mali for six A-29s and Ghana for five.
The manufacturer flew the new-build demonstrator A-29 on display here from its factory in Gaviao Pexioto, Brazil, to Recife in the country’s north, and to the coast of Africa and other stops before arriving in Dubai.
According to media reports earlier this year, The UAE has expressed interest in acquiring Super Tucanos to supply Iraq in opposing Islamic State militants. Asked about potential customers in the Middle East, Molina said: “We are working quite heavily here in the region, and there are many other countries in the region interested in this airplane. For light attack, close air support, it is the best machine right now in the industry; I have no doubt about that.
“Some of our competitors, they are derivatives of trainers or crop duster-type airplanes,” he added. “This is a big advantage I think we have against any other airplane currently in the market.”