Saudi Arabia’s SAMI and Embraer have joined forces to pitch the Brazilian airframer’s C-390 transport to Riyadh, including the potential for local assembly and support.

“This agreement is geared towards expanding the operational footprint of both companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a focus on promoting the capabilities of the C-390 Millennium,” Embraer said as the parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on 29 November.

C-390 generic

Source: Embraer Defense & Security

Riyadh is being offered potential final assembly of Embraer’s C-390 airlifter

“SAMI and Embraer will work to establish comprehensive maintenance capability for the aircraft in the Kingdom. Additionally, both companies will explore a regional MRO hub and a final assembly line,” it adds. Other aspects of their collaboration could include the in-country integration of mission system equipment, plus training activities.

“This is the first step to advance cooperation in defence and security involving production chains between the two countries,” says Embraer Defense & Security chief executive Bosco da Costa Junior. “We will work hard to add value to the local industry, to the Royal Saudi Air Force [RSAF], and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he adds, describing the nation as a “strategic market”.

Embraer also in mid-2022 signed an MoU with BAE Systems, under which the UK company was to lead efforts to promote the C-390 to Saudi Arabia.

“We are delighted to have signed this agreement with Embraer, bringing new support and production facilities into the Kingdom,” says SAMI chief executive Walid A Abukhaled.

“It is another important step in SAMI’s efforts in supporting the Saudi Vision 2030 to strengthen the Kingdom’s self-sufficiency in the defence sector,” Abukhaled adds. Riyadh has determined that at least half of its defence expenditure must be localised by the end of this decade.

Embraer is targeting a long-standing need to replace the RSAF’s aged Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules. Cirium fleets data shows that the service flies 33 H-model tactical transports, and seven tanker-adapted examples, with these aged between 31 and 50 years.

Saudi C-130H

Source: Crown Copyright

The Royal Saudi Air Force has a long-standing need to replace aged C-130H tactical transports

Brazil and Portugal are current operators of the C/KC-390, with Hungary also having ordered the twinjet type. Additional deals are currently being negotiated by Embraer with Austria, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.