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Brazilian Air Force signs deal launching Embraer KC-390 tanker-transport

Embraer today launched a jet-powered military tanker-transport with a new contract from the Brazilian Air Force signed on the opening day of the Latin American Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) exhibition in Rio de Janeiro.

The new aircraft, designated the KC-390, is derived from the E-190 passenger jet, but is substantially different. The military configuration include such major design changes as a high-wing, T-tail and aft ramp.

“We are convinced that the development of the KC-390 will result in an effective cargo and tanker aircraft for the FAB and shall also become another successful export platform for both Embraer and Brazil,” Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer president and CEO, says in a statement.

Although the FAB reportedly plans to buy 23 KC-390s, neither party has disclosed the terms of the deal in today's announcement. The FAB plans to launch the new transport fleet into service in 2015.

Over the past two years, Embraer has signed development deals on the KC-390 with South Africa's Denel-Saab, and more recently with Colombian government officials. Embraer today says that the participation of other foreign governments is still being determined.

Embraer officials have recently described a potential world market for 700 sales of the KC-390, largely replacing aging C-130 tubroprops with a jet-powered type.

Ron Covais, Lockheed Martin's president of the Americas, acknowleges the KC-390 poses a competitive threat. "I’m sure it will be quality coming from Embraer," he said. "It will represent some level of competition to us."

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