DRS Defense Solutions has emerged as the first link in the emerging supply chain for the Embraer KC-390, after winning the contract to deliver the tanker/transport's cargo handling and aerial delivery system.

The contract with DRS's Training & Control Systems unit in Fort Walton Beach, Florida represents the first in a series of contracts to be awarded by Embraer at the end of a joint definition phase.

Last month, Embraer delivered a package of "five or six" recommendations on key suppliers to the Brazilian air force, which is funding the $1.3 billion development phase and will make supply chain decisions.

Embraer also is expected to announce suppliers for the KC-390's engine, fuselage sections and cockpit systems this year, with two prototypes scheduled for delivery in 2014.

For the cargo handling and aerial delivery system, DRS is scaling up components already in operation with smaller aircraft, such as the Airbus Military C-212, CN-235 and C-295, says Howard Hudson, DRS's vice-president of business development.

The components include rollers, restraints, siderails, lock controls and tie-down rings for cargo handling equipment, and a parachute release mechanism for aerial delivery.

"It's not every day that you get in on the ground floor of a brand-new programme," says Edwin Epstein, president of DRS Training & Control Systems.

Source: Flight International