EMB-314 Super Tucano is an enhanced version of the EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft that features faster speed and higher altitude capabilities. The prototype of the Super Tucano first flew in 1992. Both Tucano and Super Tucano have been developed and built by Embraer of Brazil.
EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft
The Tucano was a low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, with retractable tricycle landing gear. It was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) PT6A-25C turboprop providing 560 kW (750 SHP), driving a Hartzell three-bladed variable-pitch constant-speed propeller. There were two fuel tanks in each wing, providing four tanks with a total fuel capacity of 660 liters (174 US gallons). The aircraft was fully aerobatic.
(A-11 to A-140)
* Powers are approximate values at take-off. Available at sea level, standard day, static conditions, uninstalled.
** Dimensions are approximate values.
*** Equivalent Shaft Horsepower: includes estimated equivalent contribution of exhaust thrust.
All flight surfaces were unswept, but with tapered planforms. Flight control layout was conventional, with a one-piece slotted flap inboard on each wing plus an aileron outboard, with rudder and elevators on the tail assembly. Primary flight controls were manual, except for electrically actuated flaps. Trim tabs were fitted, as was a tailfin fillet extension, presumably to compensate for the Tucano’s long and high canopy. All landing gear had single wheels and were hydraulically retractable, with the steerable nose gear retracting backwards, while the main gear hinged from the wings to retract towards the fuselage.
The crew sat in tandem on Martin-Baker BR8LC zero-zero (zero altitude, zero speed) ejection seats, under a jettisonable single-piece canopy that hinged open to the right. The cockpit was pressurized and climate-conditioned. Dual controls were standard. Two stores pylons could be fitted under each wing for a total of four, with typical stores being machine-gun pods, unguided rocket pods, or unguided bombs, to a total stores load of 1 tonne (2,200 pounds). A reflex gunsight was fitted in the cockpit for weapons aiming. The inboard stores pylons were “wet”, permitting carriage of a total of two ferry tanks, providing 330 liters (87 US gallons) capacity each. Source airvectors.net
In addition to basic and advanced pilot training, the main missions of the aircraft are border patrol and counter-insurgency operations.
The flight envelope of the aircraft is 7g and -3.5g. Its small size, small visual and radar signatures, together with high speed and agility, give the aircraft high-survivability. Additional survivability features include armour protection and critical systems redundancy.
Super Tucano ALX light attack aircraft
Embraer was awarded a contract in 1995 to develop a variant of the Super Tucano, known as the ALX or light attack aircraft, for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). One of the main missions of the aircraft is border patrol under the Sistema de Vigilancia da Amazonia (SIVAM) programme and so the ALX was optimised for the environmental conditions of the Brazilian Amazon. The ALX is capable of operating day and night missions from remote bases and unpaved runways with minimal ground support. The first production aircraft was completed in 1999.
In August 2001, the Brazilian Air Force awarded Embraer a contract for 76 Super Tucano / ALX aircraft with options for a further 23. 51 of these aircraft are two seater versions, designated AT-29, which are stationed at the Natal Air Force Base and replace the AT-26 Xavante advanced jet trainers which are approaching the end of their operational lives. The remaining 25 aircraft are the single seat A-29 ALX version.
The first aircraft was delivered in December 2003. By September 2007, 50 aircraft had entered service. The 99th and last A-29 aircraft was delivered in June 2012.
The A-29 Super Tucano has been selected by 15 air forces worldwide.
AT-6B Light Attack Aircraft / Trainer: Details
EMB-314 Super Tucano orders and deliveries
In August 2001, Embraer announced the signing of a contract with the Dominican Republic for ten Super Tucano aircraft, to be used for pilot training, internal security, border patrol and counter-narcotics trafficking missions. The order was reduced to eight aircraft in January 2009. The first two Super Tucano aircraft were delivered to the Dominican Republic on 18 December 2009. Three were delivered in June 2010 and the remaining three in October 2010.
Venezuela selected the EMB-314 Super Tucano in February 2005. A total of 12 aircraft were to be ordered, with a further 12 planned. The sale fell through because it was thought the USA would block the transfer of US-built components.
In December 2005, the Columbian Air Force placed a contract for 25 Super Tucano aircraft. The first five were delivered in December 2006, with the final delivery completed in August 2008. The aircraft are used for border patrol and internal security. Elbit Systems was contracted to supply the avionics suite.
In April 2008, the Chilean Air Force selected the EMB-314 Super Tucano, with a requirement for 12 aircraft. A contract for the 12 aircraft was signed in August 2008. Embraer delivered first four of the 12 aircraft to Chilean Air Force on 23 December 2009. The Dominican Republic placed a contract for eight Super Tucano aircraft in late 2008.
The Ecuadorian Air Force (EAF) ordered 24 Super Tucano aircraft in March 2009 as part of a $270m agreement signed with Embraer in 2008. A total of six Super Tucanos were delivered by April 2010. The EAF reduced its order from 24 to 18 in May 2010 to acquire 12 second-hand Cheetah C fighters from Denel Dynamics.
Embraer signed a contract with the Indonesian Ministry of Defence in November 2010 to supply eight A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advance trainer aircraft for superseding a fleet of OV-10 Broncos. It also supplied ground support stations and an integrated logistics package. The contract was finalised and became effective from 9 June 2011. The first four aircraft were delivered in August 2012.
The Indonesian Air Force placed an order for a second batch of eight A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and a flight simulator in July 2012, while the Philippine Air Force (PAF) awarded a contract to Embraer for six A-29 aircraft in November 2017. Delivery to the PAF commenced in 2019.
Embraer and its partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) received a contract from the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for the delivery of 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft in December 2018.
The first A-29 completed its inaugural flight for the NAF in April 2020, while the entire fleet is expected to be delivered by 2021. The contract also includes ground training equipment, mission planning devices, mission debrief systems, ground support systems and additional mission equipment the NAF.
USAF’s Light Air Support programme
A-29 Super Tucano was selected by the US Air Force (USAF) for its Light Air Support (LAS) programme in December 2011. Under the $355m contract, 20 aircraft were expected to be delivered in partnership with SNC, who was the prime contractor of the programme. The contract was cancelled in February 2012 due to concerns over the procurement process. The USAF placed a $427m order with Embraer to deliver 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to the Afghan Air Force, in February 2013. The first aircraft was rolled out in September 2014.
The Afghan Air Force took delivery of the first four aircraft in January 2016, while the remaining aircraft delivered by the end of 2018.
A new contract for an additional six A-29s was placed in October 2017. The Afghan Air Force received 22 A-29s, as of September 2018.
SNC was awarded a $1.808bn contract by US for procurement, modifications, ferry, sustainment, and related equipment for the A-29 in September 2018.
EMB-314 Super Tucano cockpit
The all-glass cockpit is fully compatible with night-vision goggles. Brazilian AF ALX aircraft are equipped with avionics systems from Elbit Systems of Haifa, Israel, including a head-up display (HUD), advanced mission computer, navigation system, and two 6in x 8in colour liquid crystal multi-function displays.
The head-up display with 24° field of view and the advanced weapon delivery system are integrated through a MIL-STD-1553B data bus. The pilot is provided with a hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) control.
The pilot is protected with Kevlar armour and provided with a zero/zero ejection seat. The clamshell canopy, hinged at the front and rear and electrically activated, is fitted with a de-icing system and features a windshield capable of withstanding, at 300k, the impact of a 4lb bird. A Northrop Grumman onboard oxygen generation system (OBOGS) is installed.
Elbit avionics suite
The Elbit avionics suite in the AL-X “is close to that of the Block 60 Lockheed Martin F-16”, says Berto. Designed for high reliability, low workload, redundancy and high commonality with state-of-the-art fighters, the multimode system is driven by two main mission and display computers via a 1553B multiplex databus. Configured for either light attack or advanced training, the panel is designed to be altered during base checks to suit the appropriate need.
The instrument panel is dominated by two 150 x 200mm flat-panel multifunction displays (MFD), an arm consent switch, a HUD and a subpanel with hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls. In the advanced training mode, the fighter subpanel, HOTAS and HUD are removed and the MFDs are “frozen”, says Berto. A “basic-T” made up of traditional instruments (air-speed and attitude indicators, basic flight instrument, vertical speed indicator, turn and bank indicator, standby horizon plus g meter), is dropped in its place. “The MFDs can be gradually phased in as the student gains experience,” Berto adds. Only two pages are available in training mode on the MFDs – a horizontal situation display and radio page on the left, and the electronic instrument and crew alerting system on the right. Source flightglobal.com
The aircraft is fitted with two central mission computers. The integrated weapon system includes software for weapon aiming, weapon management, mission planning and mission rehearsal. Onboard recording is used for post mission analysis.
There are five hardpoints for carrying weapons, and the aircraft is capable of holding a maximum external load of 1,500kg. The aircraft is armed with two wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns with a rate of fire of 1,100 rounds a minute and is capable of carrying general-purpose bombs and guided air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. Brazilian AF aircraft are armed with the MAA-1 Piranha short-range infrared guided air-to-air missile from Orbita.
12.7mm machine guns
The FN® M3P is a .50-caliber (12.7x99mm) single-barrel high rate-of-fire machine gun optimized for remote firing from aircraft, ground vehicles and naval craft and provides both offensive and defensive firepower ranging out to nearly 1,850 meters.
When used in various applications, the FN® M3P is able to engage light armored vehicles and provide suppressive fire against both ground and aerial threats. Additionally, the FN® M3P is suitable for applications in remote weapon stations and is able to fire at all elevations up to 90 degrees from horizontal.
Features unique to the FN® M3P are the 28V electrical interfaces that allow remote firing and clearing of the weapon system, as well as allowing the operator to remotely place the weapon on safe. Depending on configuration, the FN® M3P can be mounted in pods or on FN’s deFNder® Medium. Source fnamerica.com
MAA-1 Piranha short-range infrared guided air-to-air missile
The MAA-1 Piranha is the first air-to-air missile developed by Brazil for its Air Force and Navy replacing the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. Its development began in the middle 1990s, the original project was released in the late 1970s, and achieved some degree of operational capability in September 2002. It has been assumed that the missile achieved initial operational capability in 2003 coinciding with the last test campaign. The MAA-1 project has been handled by many Brazilian companies since its inception in the 1970s but finally was Mectron in the 1990s who developed the MAA-1 missile weapon system.
The MAA-1 Piranha is a supersonic, short-range air-to-air missile relying on infrared passive guidance which seeks the target’s heat emissions coming primarily from the engine/s. The infrared sensor uses two colors to discriminate countermeasures from the real target and was supplied by South Africa’s Kentron (Denel Group). The missile outstanding maneuverability allows it to perform at 50g. The Piranha performs as a ‘launch and forget’ missile, that means once launched the missile doesn’t require input data coming the aircraft’s sensors to hit its target, and a laser fuze is responsible for detonating the warhead. Externally, it is very similar to Rafael’s Python 3 air-to-air missile and the aerodynamic configuration is near the same.
During the 1990s Mectron conducted Piranha missile test firings on the AT-26 Xavante, F-5 and Mirage III aircraft. The missile was qualified for operation on the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) F-5E in September 2002. Missile production began from 2003 onwards but no date has been confirmed yet. The Piranha air-to-air missile has also been integrated into Brazilian AMX training/light attack aircraft and could be integrated into many other aircraft used by the Brazilian Air Force in the near future. Source deagel.com
The two-seat AT-29 is fitted with a forward-looking infrared AN/AAQ-22 SAFIRE turret on the underside of the fuselage. The SAFIRE thermal imaging system supplied by FLIR Systems is for targeting, navigation and target tracking. The system allows the aircraft to carry out night surveillance and attack missions.
AN/AAQ-22 SAFIRE turret
FLIR Star SAFIRE III provides extremely reliable high performance. Along with superior image stabilization and long-range imaging, Star SAFIRE III features internal navigation for precise targeting, MWIR thermal imager, optional EO color and low-light cameras, and multiple laser payload options. The system is fully hardened for military fixed-wing and helicopter operations, and it operates continuously in all conditions – even while sitting on the tarmac with no airflow.
- OPTIMIZED USABILITY View and track ground locations using the fully-embedded IMU. Follow moving targets with the multi-mode Autotracker.
- MULTI-MISSION CAPABLE Use in applications as diverse as land force protection, shipboard open ocean and littoral patrol, and long-range airborne reconnaissance.
- IMAGE BLENDING Combine critical spectral information from the IR imager with the image-intensified low-light camera or long-range spotter scope.
In July 2012, Embraer and Boeing signed a cooperation agreement to add new weapons integration capacity on the A-29 Super Tucano to satisfy the requirements of the US Air Force LAS programme.
Savis, Bradar and Rockwell Collins entered into an agreement with Embraer to improve the defense applications of the aircraft in April 2017. The radar technology will be integrated into the Rockwell Collins FireStorm™ system to improve fire precision of the aircraft.
The aircraft is equipped with an advanced laser inertial navigation and attack system, a global positioning system (GPS) and a traffic alerting and collision avoidance system (TCAS).
EMB-314 Super Tucano propulsion
EMB-314 Super Tucano is powered by a PT6A-68A turboprop engine, developing 969kW. The power plant is fitted with automatic engine monitoring and control. The ALX aircraft has a more powerful engine than the EMB-314.
PT6A-68A turboprop engine
The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A is a family of twin-shaft turboprop engines and the world’s most popular engine in its class. As many as 69 different versions of the PT6A have been produced – with engine power ranging from 500 to 2,000 shp. In service, PT6A-powered aircraft are used for many different purposes such as transport of people; (both private and commercial), dropping cargo in adverse weather conditions; military pilot training, surveillance and other special missions; and supporting various environmental efforts. The strength of the PT6A family is its dependability and versatility.
The PT6A is in service with both the U.S. Air Force (MC-12W) and the U.S. Army (C-12). The MC-12W and C-12 are military special mission aircraft and mainly provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). The C-12 is powered by two PT6A-60A engines with 1,050 shp each.
Also, the PT6A is used on the T-6 Texan II military trainer aircraft, which provides undergraduate pilot training for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. The T-6 Texan II is powered by a single PT6A-68 engine with 1,100 shp. Source fi-powerweb.com
The ALX’s Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-68/3 turboprop engine, rated at 1,600shp, drives a Hartzell five-bladed constant speed fully feathering reversible pitch propeller.
The fuel capacity is 695l, which gives a range of over 1,500km and endurance of 6hrs 30mins.
Performance of Super Tucano
EMB-314 can fly at the rate of 24m/s. The maximum and cruise speed of the aircraft are 530km/h and 593km/h respectively.
The range and service ceiling of the Super Tucano are 4,820km and 10,670m respectively. Its maximum endurance is six hours and 30 minutes. The aircraft weighs 3,020kg and has a maximum take-off weight of 5,200kg.
Main material source airforce-technology.com
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Main image By Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force) @flickr
Updated May 30, 2021