2020 was a challenging year, yet it was a year where Embraer’s medium sized tactical aircraft, the C-390 Millennium, and the light attack and counter-insurgency A-29 Super Tucano were able to demonstrate their value on the global stage.
Since its entry into service in 2019 with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), Embraer’s C-390 Millennium has been proving its worth as a game-changing force multiplier. It provides unrivalled mobility, rapid mission reconfiguration, high availability, and improved flight safety in a single and unique modern platform.
The ‘launch customer’ for the C-390 was the FAB, which joined hands with Embraer to develop the C-390 project starting with a clean sheet in 2009. FAB currently operates four KC-390s, the multi-mission air mobility and air-to-air refueling (AAR) configuration of the C-390. In addition, NATO countries Portugal and most recently Hungary have contracted Embraer to supply the KC-390 variant of the C-390 Millennium.
The C-390 is capable of transporting and delivering cargo and troops by both airdrop and airland to prepared, semi-prepared and damaged runways as well as performing a wide array of other missions including aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, aerial refueling (fighters and helicopters), aerial firefighting and more. It features a modern cargo handling system which can transport large-sized cargo including pallets, vehicles, helicopters, troops, paratroopers, medevac stretchers, as well as mixed configurations of the these.
The C-390’s piloting is facilitated by a modern and proven integrated avionic system and a fly-by-wire flight control system. In addition, it can be equipped with self-defense systems and ballistic protection which increases its survivability when operating in hostile environments.
The C-390 in operation
FAB’s fourth KC-390 was delivered by Embraer in December 2020 and their operational fleet has been actively involved in carrying essential supplies to alleviate the pandemic in Brazil. Additionally, FAB deployed one of their aircraft on a humanitarian mission to Beirut, Lebanon in August 2020.
In January 2021, FAB announced the KC-390s’ participation in ‘Operation Culminating’. This is a joint exercise where the Brazilian Army and the Brazilian Air Force will interoperate with the KC-390 alongside with the US Army and US Air Force.
Beyond Brazil, the Portuguese Armed Forces (FAP) ordered five KC-390s in 2019 and in October 2020, teams from the FAP and Embraer concluded the Critical Design Review for these aircraft. This step has defined the aircraft’s technical requirements and configuration according to FAP’s demands, enabling Embraer to progress with aircraft manufacture and delivery.
More A-29 Super Tucanos in the Asia Pacific region
The A-29 Super Tucano is operated by more than 15 air forces around the globe, accumulating more than 430,000 flight-hours, of which over 60,000 flight-hours have been accrued in combat operations.
In October 2020, six Super Tucanos were delivered to the Philippine Air Force. The aircraft will be operated in the roles of close air support, light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception, counter-insurgency missions and advanced training. These new aircraft are part of PAF’s ongoing modernization plans.
The A-29 Super Tucano has a low-wing, tandem-seat, turboprop configuration optimized for light attack, reconnaissance and as an advanced training aircraft.
It is a versatile and powerful platform with a rugged and durable design that can operate from unimproved runways at forward operating bases in austere environments. Combat proven in many conflicts around the world, it combines its superior aircraft performance with the integration of 21st century weapons, sensors and surveillance systems, datalinks and sophisticated protection systems, to create a highly effective and advanced air combat platform. These capabilities have resulted in the A-29 Super Tucano being chosen by the United States Air Force (USAF) for combat operations in Afghanistan.
Embraer salutes the Royal Australian Air Force as it marks its 100th anniversary and its contributions to the Australian Defence Force as part of One Team, One Defence.