KC-390 tanker aircraft

Embraer Defense and Security has selected two Brazilian companies, Aerotron and LH Colus, to serve as component suppliers for the KC-390 tanker aircraft programme, being developed for the country’s Air Force (FAB).

Under the contracts, Aerotron will supply the aircraft’s entire ballistics protection systems, while LH Colus will be responsible for production and delivery of first set of seats and stretchers for the KC-390 flight tests.

Embraer Defense and Security Operations vice president and COO, Eduardo Bonini Santos Pinto, said the company is confident of obtaining technologically advanced products from both the suppliers.

Commenting on the selection, LH Colus CEO, Luiz Henrique Colus, said: "This is evidence that we can manufacture in Brazil items that meet the stringent requirements of FAB related to the safety and comfort of the crew."

Capable of operating from short and semi-prepared airstrips, the twin-engine powered KC-390 is a medium-lift aircraft designed to conduct troop and cargo transport in Antarctica and Amazon regions, apart from aerial delivery, in-flight refuelling, search and rescue (SAR) and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations.

A total of 28 KC-390s were ordered by FAB from Embraer under a $1.3bn contract in April 2009, to help replace its existing fleet of 22 Lockheed Martin-built C-130E/Hs and KC-130 aircraft.

The first flight of the KC-390 is expected to take place in 2014, followed by entry into operational service with the air force in 2016.

The Ballistic protection suite will be handed over by 2013, while delivery schedule for the seats and stretchers has not been disclosed by the company.

Image: The Brazilian Air Force’s KC-390 military transport and tanker aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Cobham.