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Embraer KC-390 Military Transport

The KC-390 cargo aircraft wasn developed by Embraer as a direct challenge to Lockheed Martin Corp's popular C-130 Hercules airlifter, promising a jet that flies higher, fuller and faster, at a lower price.

On 17 December 2018 Embraer and Boeing approved to the terms of a strategic partnership that would position both companies to accelerate growth in global aerospace markets. Embraer planned a joint venture with Boeing focused on the KC-390 tactical military freighter. In this agreement Embraer will have a 51% stake while Boeing will have the remaining 49%. Both companies will allocate cash and assets in this joint venture. In this agreement both manufacturers will have a long-term contract for research, development, intellectual property, support and supply chain for the airplane. It is expected that the KC-390 will reach an agreement with the United States government, becoming the substitute of veterans C-130 Hercules. From the start of the KC-390 program Embraer had the ambition to make its plane the natural replacement for Hercules, but would have to face the powerful lobby of Lockheed Martin, owner of the C-130 program.

The new jet is designed to meet the needs of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), in full compliance with the new National Defense Strategy. The existence of a study regarding this military transport aircraft was presented two years ago, at the Latin America Aero and Defence (LAAD) trade fair in 2007. The FAB established the requirements for this aircraft, just as has occurred with other successful products manufactured by Embraer, like the Bandeirante, the Tucano, the aerial surveillance and remote sensoring versions of the ERJ 145, which are used in the Amazon Surveillance System (Sistema de Vigilncia da Amaznia SIVAM), and the Super Tucano.

Initially the concept was a quick and simple derivative of the Embraer 190 large regional jet. The budget was projected at $600 million, with $400 million coming from the Brazilian government and $200 million provided by Embraer and risk-sharing partners. But further study concluded that it was not a realistic aircraft, and the design could not fulfill the mission requirements. The final KC-390 design, although sharing a similar high-wing, twin-turbofan configuration, was otherwise an all-new design, with the most noteworthy change being a high T-tail.

In a ceremony held April 14, 2009, today, during the seventh edition of the Latin America Aero and Defence (LAAD) trade fair, which takes place from April 14 to 17, at Riocentro, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Embraer signed a contract with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) for the KC-390 military transport aircraft program. The event was attended by the Minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim, the Head of the Navy, Admiral Jlio Soares de Moura Neto, the Brazilian Aeronautics Commander, General Juniti Saito, and Embraer President & CEO Frederico Fleury Curado.

The launch of the KC-390 program is a new landmark in the historical strategic partnership between the Brazilian Air Force and Embraer, said Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer President & CEO. We are convinced that the development of the KC-390 will result in an effective cargo and tanker aircraft for the FAB and shall also become another successful export platform for both Embraer and Brazil.

On October 20, 2011 some 80 Brazilian companies from the Brazilian aerospace cluster participated in the KC-390 Workshop, held yesterday by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). Embraer Defense and Security presented short and medium-range opportunities to potential suppliers of the military transport and refueling jet being developed for the Brazilian Air Force. The workshops main objective was to stimulate more Brazilian companies to participate in the bidding process as suppliers of parts, components, systems and services for the KC-390. The Nationalization Index of the aircraft, as calculated according to the criteria of the Brazilian Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), is estimated to be 60%, or as much as 80%, if the engines, which represent about one-third of the total cost of the aircraft and for which there is no Brazilian manufacturer, are not taken into consideration.

The event was held in the Technological Center of So Jos dos Campos, and was attended by the Brazilian Industrial Development Agency (ABDI), BNDES, the Brazilian Innovation Agency FINEP, the Industrial Foment and Coordination Institute (IFI). The Association of Aerospace Industries of Brazil (AIAB) and the Center for Competitiveness and Innovation of Eastern So Paulo (CECOMPI) also participated. The meeting also sought to urge companies to pursue partnerships with suppliers from other countries that have already begun working with Embraer Defense and Security in the program.

The mobilization and strengthening of the entire national production chain, aligned with the governments priorities reflected in the National Defense Strategy and in the new Bigger Brazil Plan (Plano Brasil Maior), have been the focus of the Brazilian Air Force and Embraer since the beginning of this program, said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President of Embraer Defense and Security. With the support of a number of public and private agencies, there are several joint efforts to stimulate and facilitate the participation of Brazilian companies as suppliers of the KC-390.

On September 1, 2010 Embraer participated in a ceremony in Braslia, for signing a Declaration of Intent by the Ministers of Defense of Brazil and Colombia, for Brazils neighboring country to take part in the development program and in the production of the KC-390 military transport jet. This is the first step toward bilateral negotiations that will establish the terms and conditions of Colombias participation in the program, and which could result in setting up a factory for machined parts in that country, in order to serve the aviation market, as well as in the purchase of 12 KC-390 airplanes by the Colombian government.

Colombia was the launch customer of the Super Tucano on the international market, and we are very honored to see the country lining up with our Company, once again, this time as part of the ambitious KC-390 program, said Orlando Jos Ferreira Neto, Embraer Executive Vice President, Defense Market. The development of an aeronautics hub in Colombia will strengthen even more the cooperation between the technological and industrial defense bases of both nations.

The relationship between Embraer and the Colombian Air Force (FAC) dates back approximately 20 years. The FAC has operated 14 Tucano planes, since 1992, which are used to train pilots, as well as two EMB 110 Bandeirante aircraft to transport personnel. Added to these aircraft is a fleet of 25 Super Tucano training and light attack turboprops. In the commercial aviation segment, Colombias state-run SATENA (Servicio Areo a Territorios Nacionales) airline flies five ERJ 145 and two EMBRAER 170 jets, with 50 and 76 seats, respectively, serving 43 destinations throughout the country.

By beginning these conversations for setting forth Colombias participation in the development of the KC-390 airplane, and actually being part of the program itself, we are taking big steps to significantly speed up the development of the countrys aeronautics industry, through the Colombian Aeronautics Industry Corporation (CIAC), not only because we will increment our engineering capacities, but because we are very proud to join this project with Embraer, said the Air Marshal Flavio Ulloa, Colombian Air Force Chief of Logistical Operations. With Embraers more than 40 years of experience in developing airplanes, and the experience of the Colombian Air Force in the operational area, we will be able to work together to make the KC-390 one of the most modern and versatile aircraft for handling different types of missions, whether military or commercial, and we thank Embraer for allowing us to be a part of this project.

On June 26, 2012 the Boeing Company and Embraer announced an agreement to collaborate on the KC-390 aircraft program. Under this agreement, Boeing and Embraer will share some specific technical knowledge and evaluate markets where they may join their sales efforts for medium-lift military transport opportunities. Boeing has extensive experience in military transport and air refueling aircraft, as well as deep knowledge of potential markets for the KC-390, especially those which were not considered in our original marketing plan said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, president and CEO of Embraer Defesa e Segurana. This agreement will strengthen the KC-390s prominent position in the global military transport market.

The KC-390 collaboration is part of a broader agreement that Boeing and Embraer signed in April 2012. The companies previously announced that they are exploring ways to cooperate in commercial airplane efficiency and safety, research and technology, and sustainable aviation biofuels. Boeing and Embraer will conduct a joint market assessment for the medium-lift military transport market and analyze business collaboration models. The market assessment includes potential customers that had not been considered in the initial market prospects for the KC-390.

The FAB already operates other transport aircraft manufactured by Embraer, like the EMB 120 Brasilia, the ERJ 145, and the Legacy 600. Besides these, the fleet of military aircraft designed and manufactured in Brazil, like the Tucano, the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) airplanes operated within the SIVAM, and the Super Tucano, as well as the AMX, which was developed in a partnership with Italian companies. In June 2008, Embraer signed a contract for the sale of two EMBRAER 190 jets to the FAB, configured especially for carrying authorities.

The KC-390 development program is ongoing. Development expenditures associated with the KC-390 were borne by the Brazilian Air Force. Embraer said the KC-390 will be produced at half the cost of the American-made Hercules transport aircraft. The aircraft was intially expected as of 2009 to enter service in 2015. As of mid-2010 the first prototype takeoff was scheduled for January 2014, shortly after the roll out ceremony. The first flight of a series aircraft was anticipated for two years later, in 2016. As of mid-2011, The first deliveries of the V2500-E5 engines for the KC-390 prototypes were scheduled for 2013, and the flight tests for 2014. The aircraft was to go into service in 2015. Subsequently, the first flight of the KC-390 prototype was expected to occur in 2014, and initial deliveries are expected for 2016.

In July 2015 Embraer delayed the certification for the KC-390 tanker-transport to the second half of 2017 and entry into service in 2018. The disclosure in the companys second quarter earnings statement represented a delay of up to two years for the military aircraft. With an economic downturn, government spending cuts forced Embraer into delaying development of the plane, and with its first order to be delivered to the Brazilian military in 2018 rather than 2016.

Embraer completed a highly-publicized first flight of the KC-390 in Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil, on 03 February 2014. This was the only flight of the aircraft for a time, with a "lay-up period" to allow the installation of all the instrumentation required for certification trials. A two-year suspension of flight testing because of government budget constraints. The KC-390 tanker/airlifter logged more than 100 hours in six months since it resumed its flight-test program on October 26, 2015.

As of April 2012 the KC-390 program had 52 purchase intentions: 28 aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force, 12 for the Colombian Air Force, six for the Chilean Air Force, two for the Argentinean Air Force, two for the Portuguese Air Force and two for the Air Force of the Czech Republic. The participation of other countries in this program was to be evaluated, in conjunction with the FAB. The KC-390 Program will contribute, in the short term, to maintaining highly qualified jobs, and, longer-term, it has the potential for generating significant export volumes with important aggregate value. As of early 2016 Embraer had contracts to deliver 28 KC-390 aircraft to Brazil, and 32 'letters of intention' with other countries, including Chile, Portugal and Argentina.

Brigadier General Mrcio Bruno Bonotto, the head of the Brazilian Air Force purchasing department, voiced his dissatisfaction 12 May 2017 with Brazil's former acquisition policies, which led to Brasilia buying foreign arms with no reciprocal contracts in place. To make amends, he proposed that Sweden buys the new KC-390 Embraer transport aircraft as a replacement for its aging fleet of C-130 Hercules. "We would not want to be in the position when our partners never buy our products, and would like to make a bid. The KC-390 is a spectacular plane and it would be great if Sweden acquired them," Mrcio Bruno Bonotto said. At present, however, Sweden is performing an upgrade of its Hercules fleet, which would prolong the planes' lifetime until 2030.

By September 2018 BOEING and EMBRAER are negotiating the installation of an assembly line for the new KC-390 military freighter in the United States. It would be a second line, additional to that already existing in Gavio Peixoto, in the interior of So Paulo. The project is part of the agreement in which the American aircraft manufacturer intends to acquire control of the commercial aviation unit of EMBRAER. The production area for military aircraft will not be sold, but the two companies also intend to create a joint venture in the Defense area for the installation of the freighter factory in the USA.

The KC-390 "made in the USA" would only be assembled in that country, starting from the same parts that are now part of the freighter project produced in Brazil. With this Americanization of the product, two new markets for the EMBRAER product are opened. The American market itself, which includes the air force and other agencies such as the national guard; and allied US states within the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, which has a diplomatic and financial structure marketing of American products. Some examples of countries covered by the FMS are South Korea, Japan, Israel, Australia and many others.

The Super Tucano, Embraer's light-attack aircraft, is already manufactured in Jacksonville, Florida, just so it can be bought by the US government. The American headquarters is also in Florida at Fort Laudardale.

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Page last modified: 19-12-2018 14:29:52 ZULU