The Czech Republic is in formal negotiations with Embraer over a long-planned acquisition of two C-390 Millennium tactical transports.
Announced on 16 October, the development follows what Embraer says was a market analysis undertaken by Prague’s defence ministry. This “identified the C-390 as the most suitable solution for meeting the requirements of the army of the Czech Republic”, it adds.
The Brazilian airframer points to the type’s “higher availability and lower life-cycle costs” versus rival products as having supported the selection.
“We are ready to provide the most advanced medium transport aircraft available in the market to the Czech Republic,”, says Embraer Defense & Security chief executive Bosco da Costa Junior.
Prague’s obtaining the twinjet “will significantly increase its airlift capacity, allowing the Czech army to perform missions such as air transport, air assault operations, aerial resupply, medical evacuation, humanitarian aid, air-to-air refuelling and firefighting”, the company says.
In addition to the pair of C-390s, a contract also will encompass pilot, loadmaster and technician training, plus spare parts. A “robust entry-into-operation plan” also will involve “a local presence of Embraer personnel for an initial period”.
Already operational with the Brazilian air force, which has so far taken six of an eventual 19 examples, the C/KC-390 is on order for Hungary (two) and Portugal (five), and also the subject of contract negotiations with Austria (four) and the Netherlands (five).
If all these deals are finalised, the Millennium’s total order book will stand at 37 aircraft for six nations.
The Czech Republic has had a more than decade-long interest in the International Aero Engines V2500-powered C-390, having signed a letter of intent for two examples in 2010, during the programme’s development phase.
Embraer says it intends to strengthen cooperation with local industry, while noting: “Aero Vodochody is already a strategic partner and supplier for the programme, producing parts of the rear fuselage, the doors for paratroopers and crew, the emergency door and hatches, the cargo ramp, and the fixed leading edge”.
A Brazilian air force KC-390 attended the NATO Days event in Ostrava, the Czech Republic, in mid-September. Capable of carrying a maximum payload of 26t, the type can operate at a cruise speed of up to 470kt (870km/h), or Mach 0.8.
Cirium fleets data shows that the Czech air force currently operates six Airbus Defence & Space C295 twin-turboprop transports, plus four Aircraft Industries L-410s in the light utility role.
Prague is embarking on a programme of military modernisation which has already seen it receive the first of an eventual 20 Bell AH-1Z attack and UH-1Y utility helicopters. Its government also recently approved a planned $5 billion purchase of 24 Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters, for delivery from “the beginning of the next decade”.