After years of effort developing the C-390 Millennium tactical transport, Brazilian airframer Embraer is ready to reap the rewards.

The company logged a banner year in 2023, delivering the first NATO-standard configuration C-390 to Portugal and reaching full operational capability on the jet-powered type with the Brazilian air force.

Most recently, Embraer secured its first Millennium customer in the Asia-Pacific with a $544 million order from South Korea for a trio of C-390s.

“We are in a harvest moment,” says Bosco da Costa Junior, chief executive of Embraer Defense & Security.

Costa spoke with FlightGlobal on 18 February ahead of the Singapore air show, where the C-390 is making its debut appearance.

C-390 Millennium-6

Source: Embraer C-390

After entering service in 2019, Embraer has seen steady growth in new orders for the twin-engined C-390 in Europe and most recently Asia

While the company is pushing hard across its entire defence portfolio – including launching a new production line in Gaviao Peixoto to produce Saab Gripen E fighters for Brazil – the C-390 is undoubtedly the main effort for Embraer’s military business.

After making substantial investments to develop these platforms, da Costa says the company is now shifting focus to securing new customers – particularly for the C-390.

“We would like to materialise sales in the coming year,” he notes. “That’s the main goal.”

Coming off a strong 2023, optimism is sky-high at Embraer’s Sao Jose dos Campos headquarters. Without revealing who, da Costa says the company hopes to announce a new C-390 operator before the end of the current quarter.

Among the list of likely candidates is Saudi Arabia, where the Millennium was recently on display for the World Defense Show near Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s SAMI and Embraer have joined forces to pitch the C-390 to Riyadh.

Europe also has several interested parties, including the Czech Republic, Austria, and the Netherlands. All three countries have signalled their preference for the C-390 and are currently in negotiations with Embraer to acquire two, four and five aircraft, respectively.

Embraer C-390 Millennium

Source: Embraer

The Millennium also comes in a KC-390 tanker configuration, competing against offerings from Boeing, Lockheed and Airbus

Speaking at the Dubai air show last November, da Costa described the talks with Amsterdam as being in the “final stage”, with expectations of announcing a contract before the end of March.

Embraer on 9 February also revealed a local partnership with Indian manufacturer Mahindra to offer the C-390 to New Delhi as the Indian air force’s new transport platform.

Da Costa believes Embraer has a strong case for the Indian Medium Transport Aircraft tender, with Brasilia and New Delhi being founding members of the BRICS international collective of Global South countries.

“We do believe it’s a win-win case for India and Brazil,” he says. “And we do believe we have the right case to them.”

In addition to new sales, Embraer plans to complete significant delivery milestones in the coming year, including the handover of Hungary’s first Millennium and a second jet for Portugal.

However, new orders remain the company’s top priority for the programme. “We have to sell as much as possible,” da Costa says.

To achieve that, Embraer is emphasising the reliability and versatility of the multi-role Millennium, which is also available in a tanker configuration.

“Our strategy is very simple,” da Costa says. “To deliver the best product, with the best solution, with the best value proposition in a very simple way.”