LATEST UPDATE 22 MAY 2014 | Embraer officially opened the final assembly line of its new, promising KC-390 tactical transport aircraft in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo, Brazil. The Brazilian Air Force used the occassion to sign the series production contract for 28 aircraft over ten years.
The first delivery is scheduled for the end of 2016. Besides the aircraft, the contract provides for supplying a logistical support package, which includes spare parts and maintenance. The KC-390 is a joint project of the Brazilian Air Force with Embraer to develop and produce a tactical military transport and aerial refueling airplane. The plane is destined to refuel the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) to be leased SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen fighters and all the other aircraft in the inventory.
The production facility of Gavião Peixoto includes more than 30,000 square meters of hangars. The first prototype is already in the structural assembly phase. Final assembly is planned to begin in June. The first prototype is expected to fly before the end of the year.
Within the Brazilian Air Force the KC-390 will have the same tasks as the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. It will be able to operate from unpaved runways, from the hot and moisty conditions of the Amazon to the freezing rough climate of Antarctica. The jet engines will give it a speed of roughly 470 knots (870 kmh).
The cargo hold will be more than 60 feet (18.54 m) long, 11 feet wide (3.45 m) and almost 10 feet wide (2.95 m), large enough to transport vehicles, artillery and semi-disassembled smaller aircraft. Moreover, the aircraft will be able to accommodate 80 fully-equipped troops, 64 paratroopers or 74 stretcher plus a medical team. The maximum cargo load will be 23 tons. With 19 tons of cargo the projected operating radius will be 2231 miles (3,590 km) and the service ceiling roughly 38,000 feet.
According to Embraer, on top of the 28 aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force the company already has received requests for another 32 planes from other countries. In the air refuelling role, the KC-390 will take upon the task lost when the FAB retired its Boeing KC-137 last October.
Source: Embraer / Força Aérea Brasiliera