Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica), one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, received a $1.3bn development order from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) for its KC-390 medium-weight military transport jet in April 2009. The new high-wing aircraft made its first flight in February 2015 and is expected to enter service by the end of 2019. The launch of the KC-390 means competition in the 20t air transport segment has intensified.
Features of the KC-390 will be in compliance with the new National Defence Strategy and meet the needs of the FAB. The new aircraft will replace 22 Lockheed Martin C-130E/H and KC-130 that are currently a part of the FAB.
The aircraft achieved initial operating capability (IOC) in December 2017 and received type certification in October 2018.
Orders and deliveries
National Aeronautical Enterprise Empresa Nacional de Aeronautica (ENAER) of Chile signed a contract with Embraer in August 2010 to jointly build the KC-390 aircraft for the Chilean Air Force (CAF). Approximately six KC-390 aircraft will be procured by the CAF.
The Brazilian Air Force expressed its desire to acquire the KC-390 aircraft at the 47th Farnborough International Airshow held in the UK in July 2010 and signed the series production contract for the aircraft in May 2014.
The R$7.2bn ($3.3bn) contract will see the company supply 28 KC-395 aircraft over a period of ten years. The contract also includes a logistical support package, including spare parts and maintenance.
Embraer signed a letter of intent (LoI) with SkyTech for the purchase of up to six KC-390 multi-mission aircraft in February 2018.
KC-390 technical details
The twin-turbofan-powered KC-390 can be refueled in flight and can be used for in-flight or on-ground refueling of other aircraft. The new 20t jet is technically advanced and has fly-by-wire technology, which optimizes mission results to reduce pilot workload. It also helps increase the safety and capability for operating on short and rustic runways.
The military aircraft has a cargo bay equipped with an aft ramp similar to Hercules, and is capable of transporting a wide variety of cargo (weighing up to 26t), including armored vehicles.
It is outfitted with state-of-the-art loading and unloading systems for handling cargo.
A study on the KC-390 (earlier named C-390) aircraft was presented at LAAD 2007. The research and development expenses of C-390 were $600m and shared among Embraer and various partners led by the FAB.
KC-390 utilizes computed air release point (CARP) technology integrated with fly-by-wire system to provide greater accuracy during air dropping, thereby reducing crew workload.
The twin-engine jet-powered Embraer KC-390 also integrates the technological solutions developed for Embraer 190 commercial aircraft. It is expected to carry 84 military personnel and the cargo cabin will be configured for transporting the wounded or sick, on medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions. It will also be used for in-flight refueling, search and rescue missions.
U.S. auxiliary power unit for KC-390
A medium-lift transport being developed for the Brazilian air force will carry an auxiliary power unit by U.S. company Hamilton Sundstrand’s Power Systems.
The APU to be supplied to Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer for the KC-390 is a militarized version of a commercial Hamilton Sundstrand product.
“Hamilton Sundstrand is proud to continue its partnership with Embraer as the primary APU supplier and to provide equipment for this modern military aircraft to Embraer Defense and Security and, ultimately, the Brazilian air force,” said Eileen Drake, vice president and general manager, Hamilton Sundstrand Power Systems.
“The selection of this state-of-the-art military auxiliary power unit for the KC-390 follows closely on our award as Embraer’s Supplier of the Year for mechanical systems, based on our technical capability and cost effectiveness.”
The KC-390, due to enter service with the Brazilian air force in 2016, is a twin-engine jet transport aircraft designed to carry as much as 23 tons of cargo or troops. It is 111 feet long and a range of more than 1,300 miles. Embraer said the aircraft was being designed to double as a fuel tanker. Source xairforces.net
“We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with Embraer and provide our APS2600[E] APU for the second generation E-Jet,” said Eileen P. Drake, vice president and general manager, Pratt & Whitney AeroPower. “The APS2600[E] APU provides exceptional value to customers by providing increased electric power capability, both on the ground and in flight, a significantly higher operating altitude, and world-class reliability.” Source pw.utc.com
Embraer Demonstrates Cobham Aerial Refuelling Systems Aboard KC-390
Embraer Defence and Security has achieved a significant milestone in the KC-390 Tactical Military Tanker and Transport Aircraft program by demonstrating the Cobham aerial refuelling systems installed in the KC-390 prototype 001.
Configured as a tanker for the first time, a KC-390 test aircraft fitted with Cobham 912E wing mounted pods completed a series of successful flight trials during May 2016. Operating from Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto facility in Brazil, the flight involved hose stability and trail and rewind tests with both High Speed and Low Speed Drogues fitted.
The 912E pod is a bespoke design solution utilising the latest technology for the KC-390 to meet the aircrafts high performance criteria including its ability to satisfy a wide number of receivers at extended ranges. The Brazilian Air Force is the launch customer for the aircraft which is scheduled to enter service in 2018. Source cobhammissionsystems.com
Cobham 912E Wing Air Refuelling Pods
The fourth generation 900E series pod family represents the most proven solution in probe and drogue air refuelling in operational service today. The advanced features of the 900E series pod provide high levels of performance and flexibility in support of the modern war fighter
- Highly automated pod using advanced digital management
- Exceptional refuelling speed range
- Digital Control System provides flexibility to configure and optimise for any tanker/ receiver fleet
- Multiple hose-length options up to 90ft trailed
- Low weight and low drag
- Simple and flexible interfaces
- System architecture qualified and proven for helicopters and fast jet refuelling
- Ease of maintenance provided by: – Comprehensive “Built in Test” – ‘On Condition’ Line Replaceable Units – Quick Access Panels
The KC-390 is the largest and most complicated aircraft ever undertaken by Embraer. It is also the Brazilian manufacturer’s first new military product in more than a decade. It was assembled at Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto plant in Brazil.
“The KC-390 transport jet is the largest and most complicated aircraft ever undertaken by Embraer.”
Considering the delays in the production of Airbus A400M military airlifter and the time taken by Lockheed Martin to achieve full operational capability with the C-130J, both Embraer and its competitors say that developing KC-390 will not be easy.
Although the Brazilian Government will be funding, any delay in the development would weaken Embraer’s defence growth.
Participation of other countries and companies is being evaluated in consultation with the FAB.
FAdeA was awarded a partnership contract by Embraer Defence and Security (EDS) in April 2011 to build and supply spoilers, nose gear door, ramp door, flap fairings, tail cone and electronic cabinet.
Boeing and Embraer signed an agreement to co-operate on the KC-390 aircraft programme in 2012.
Rheinmetall is responsible for providing training devices for KC-390 aircraft, including cargo handling, procedure and maintenance trainers as well as flight and mission training systems.
Embraer and the FAB concluded the critical design review (CDR) of the KC-390 aircraft in March 2013. The definitive aerodynamic and structural configurations, as well as the architecture and systems installations were confirmed for the immediate production of the first prototype aircraft.
The avionics include two head-up displays (HUD), self-defence system and night-vision goggle (NVG).
Rockwell Collins signed an agreement with EDS in May 2011 to supply its Pro Line Fusion avionics system for the aircraft. The system will render improved situational awareness and decrease the workload of the pilot.
Embraer awarded a contract to BAE Systems on 27 July 2011 to supply and install flight control electronics in the KC-390 transport aircraft.
Goodrich Corporation will design, build and supply primary flight control systems as part of an agreement signed with Embraer on 27 July 2011. It will supply electro-hydrostatic actuators, electro-backup hydrostatic actuators, actuator electronics and electrical controls.
Gabbiano T20 radar systems
Selex ES has received a contract from Embraer Defense & Security to provide an undisclosed number of Gabbiano T20 radar systems for the KC-390 transport aircraft procured by the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira, FAB). Deliveries will begin this year.
Gabbiano is an X-band radar capable of delivering high accurate ISR, search and rescue and patrol missions on sea, coast and land. Based on a solid-state transmitter, it offers high resolution imagery and superior detection ranges. Gabbiano comes equipped with a suite of modes including air-to-sea surveillance with Track While Scan (TWS), high resolution ground mapping (Spot/Strip-SAR), ship target imaging and classification with ISAR and navigation with ground mapping and weather avoidance. It has been selected by ten international customers. The version of Gabbiano which will equip the KC-390 aircraft incorporates radar modes optimised for military transport aircraft.
The production contract from Embraer follows the earlier selection of the Gabbiano to be part of the KC-390’s baseline. The aircraft, which flew for the first time in February, is projected to play an important role in the international tactical airlift market with several countries having confirmed firm and option orders and sales campaigns ongoing all around the world. Source aviation2107.rssing.com
|Type: Radar||Altitude Max: 0 m|
|Range Max: 64.8 km||Altitude Min: 0 m|
|Range Min: 0.4 km||Generation: Early 1970s|
|Properties: Pulse-only Radar|
|SENSORS / EW:|
|Generic Doppler Navigation/Weather – Radar
Role: Radar, Weather and Navigation
Max Range: 64.8 km
International Aero Engines (IAE) was chosen by Embraer in July 2011 to design, develop, supply and install V2500-E5 powerplant in the KC-390 aircraft. IAE is a consortium comprising Rolls-Royce, United Technologies Unit, Pratt & Whitney and Japanese Aero Engine Corp.
IAE delivered the first three prototype V2500-E5 powerplants for Embraer’s new KC-390 aircraft in early 2014 and the remaining three in May of the same year. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the new engine model was granted in August 2014.
International Aero Engines has shipped to Embraer the first six V2500-E5 engines, which will power Embraer’s KC-390 multi-role tanker and transport.
IAE, which is majority owned by Pratt & Whitney, says the engines will be used for flight tests that will start in 2014. Embraer is scheduled to deliver the first certificated KC-390 to the Brazilian air force in 2016.
P&W expects civilian certification of the engine will be achieved in the third quarter of this year.
The engines were assembled at P&W’s facility in Middletown, Connecticut, then shipped to parent company UTC’s aerostructures plant in Foley, Alabama, for installation of nacelles, thrust reverses and other equipment, says Pratt.
Rated at 31,300lb-thrust, Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force chose the V2500-E5 in July 2011.
The selection by Embraer of the V2500-E5 comes as P&W expects to wind down production of the type in the next five years.
The company tells reporters on 20 May that V2500 deliveries will fall as deliveries of its newest engine, the PurePower geared-turbofan, ramps up.
The geared turbofan will power Airbus A320neos, Bombardier CSeries, Embraers family of second-generation E-Jets and Mitsubishis regional jet.
IAE delivered the first three prototype V2500-E5 powerplants for Embraer’s new KC-390 aircraft in early 2014 and the remaining three in May of the same year. The civil certification for the new engine model is scheduled for third quarter 2014. “IAE shipped first KC-390 engines to Embraer” posted May 20, 2014 Source flightpress.aero
ELEB Equipamentos designed, manufactured and supplied the landing gear system for the aircraft as part of a contract signed with EDS in March 2011.
It built a rugged and reliable system that enables the aircraft to operate with heavy payloads and land even in semi-prepared airfields. The KC-390 is also equipped with double chamber shocker absorber system and modern hydraulic systems.
The KC-390 can fly to a maximum altitude of 10,973m. Its maximum speed is 987.8km/h. The normal and ferry range of the aircraft are 2,590km and 6,130km respectively. The aircraft weighs around 23,600kg and its maximum take-off weight is 74,400kg.
Main material source airforce-technology.com
Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated
Main image by Alistair Henderson
Updated Oct 11, 2021