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KC-390 sales take off with Portuguese contract

Portugal has become Embraer’s first confirmed export customer for the KC-390 tactical transport/tanker, having signed a contract to buy five of the type.

Announcing the development on 11 July, Embraer said Lisbon’s acquisition is intended to “modernise Portuguese air force capacities to support national armed forces operations and increase readiness in missions of public interest.”

Portugal’s defence ministry says the procurement also includes a simulator, plus personnel training and logistics support. It values the deal at €827 million ($932 million). A first delivery will be made to the NATO member nation in February 2023, with the remaining examples to follow at a rate of one per year until February 2027.

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Brazilian air force

“The Portuguese KC-390 will meet new interoperability requirements, in the areas of secure navigation, data and voice transmission, that will allow the KC-390 to integrate joint operations in multinational alliances in which Portugal is integrated,” says Jackson Schneider, chief executive of Embraer Defense & Security. “These requirements, developed in partnership with the Portuguese air force, will enable the KC-390 to meet the needs of many other nations around the world,” he adds.

Embraer says the International Aero Engines V2500-engined KC-390 will provide the Portuguese air force with “superior cargo and troop transport, aerial delivery and aerial refuelling capabilities”.

"It is an aircraft with two engines but with capabilities that only four-engined aircraft can achieve," says Portuguese defence minister Joao Gomes Cravinho.

Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer records the service as currently operating four Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports, ranging between 27 and 41 years in age. It also employs 12 examples of Airbus Defence & Space’s C295 medium airlifter, including five twin-turboprops configured as maritime patrol aircraft.

Schneider notes that Embraer already supports “thousands of highly skilled jobs” in Portugal, with its Ogma subsidiary in Evora producing aerostructures for products including the KC-390.

Portugal’s commitment adds to the 28 aircraft already on order for launch customer the Brazilian air force. The service will take delivery of its first aircraft during the third quarter of this year, with Embraer having displayed its lead example at last month’s Paris air show.

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