Embraer has delivered the sixth C-390 multi-mission aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).

It is the first airframe to have arrived in Full Operational Capability (FOC) configuration, with the five preceding units scheduled to be upgraded at a later date.

According to a 16 June release by Embraer, the FOC certificate confirms that the C-390 programme meets all the requirements set out by the FAB, enabling the sixth aircraft to carry out all roles the type was originally designed to perform.

In addition, all export C-390 aircraft due for export “could receive these capabilities”, the release added.  

First Troop Transport Group (1º GTT), based in the Anápolis Air Force Base, will operate the sixth aircraft. All the aircraft ordered by the FAB are prepared to carry out aerial refueling missions, with the designation KC-390 Millennium.

“It is special to deliver the first aircraft in the FOC configuration to FAB,” said Bosco da Costa Junior, President and CEO of Embraer’s Defense & Security. “Although FAB has already deployed the aircraft in various different missions, inside Brazil and abroad, it will now be able to fully and definitively take advantage of the full capacity of the C-390, showing the world everything that this aircraft can deliver.”

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The C-390 is the most modern military tactical transport aircraft of the new generation. Its multi-mission platform offers incomparable mobility, combining high productivity and flexibility of operation with low operating costs, which is an unbeatable combination.

The C-390 tactical transport aircraft can carry a 26-tonne payload, at speeds of up to 470 knots, and is designed to perform a range of duties including personnel and materiel transport, medical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting, and humanitarian missions. The C-390 is also able to operate from temporary or unpaved runways, such as packed earth, soil, and gravel.

Since entering service with the FAB in 2019, the service’s fleet of five C-390 aircraft, configured in the aerial refuelling version (designated KC-390) have accumulated nearly 9,000 flight hours.

According to the manufacturer recent operational availability figures are around 80%, achieving a 99% mission completion rate.

C-390 export ambitions

Nato member countries Portugal and Hungary have both ordered the type, with fellow Alliance member the Netherlands selecting the C-390 Millennium in 2022.

In 2022 Embraer and UK defence prime BAE Systems signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly promote the C-390 transport aircraft into Middle East countries, in particular Saudi Arabia, as part of a renewed export drive.

Saudi Arabia currently operates a mixed fleet of more than 30 C-130H/J tactical transporters, with the H variant gradually being phased out and replaced by the more modern J model. Any offering of the C-390 to Riyadh would augment its tactical transport fleet, which is due an expansion in line with its increased combat air numbers.

BAE Systems has a long relationship in the Gulf region in particular, and has sold defence aerospace solutions into Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman in recent years. Embraer had an earlier agreement with Boeing to aid the C-390’s penetration in markets such as the Middle East, which had lapsed at the time of the BAE Systems tie-up.