The Portuguese Air Force celebrates a milestone as the first KC-390 Millennium enters into service at the Beja Air Base. 

The aircraft’s integration of standard NATO equipment results from flight tests carried out in Portugal, a collaborative effort involving Embraer, OGMA, and the Portuguese Air Force. Portugal had previously ordered five KC-390 aircraft, accompanied by services, support agreements, and a flight simulator.

The official entry into service was celebrated at a ceremony held at the Embraer plant in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil. This signifies a step in internationalising the KC-390 Millennium programme, with Portugal being a partner.

Walter Pinto Junior, COO of Embraer Defense & Security, expressed his excitement, stating, “The Portuguese Air Force is an Embraer’s strategic partner, having supported us since the beginning of the KC-390 Millenium’s internationalisation. Embraer and the Portuguese Air Force will continue working together to advance our long-term projects for years to come.”

The KC-390 Millennium represents a leap in Portugal’s military capabilities, adding versatility and technology to its arsenal. The aircraft’s productivity, operational flexibility, and low operating costs make it an asset for Portugal’s military.

The aircraft will replace existing C-130H aircraft, which currently fulfil transport and other requirements, according to GlobalData’s “Portugal Defense Market 2023-2028” report.

“The entry into service of this aircraft is significant for the Portuguese Air Force and Portugal, as it completes the development and production of a multi-value aircraft capable of the most demanding operational scenarios,” noted Brigadier-General João Nogueira, President of the KC-390 Programme Supervision and Monitoring Mission.

The KC-390 Millennium is capable of carrying 26 tonnes. The aircraft can fulfil various missions, from troop transport and cargo delivery to aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting, and humanitarian missions. It’s equipped to operate on temporary or unpaved runways, ensuring flexibility in challenging terrains.

The aircraft has air-to-air refuelling capabilities, demonstrated during Brazilian Air Force operations. The aircraft can refuel various fighter aircraft and other KC-390s using underwing pods.

In addition to Portugal, this multi-mission platform has garnered orders from Brazil and Hungary and has been selected by the Netherlands, Austria, and the Czech Republic