Embraer and Lockheed Martin are competing to win over legacy C-130 Hercules transport aircraft users with the KC-390 and C-130J/LM-100J, respectively.
At LAAD 2017, which took place last week in Rio de Janeiro, Lockheed and Embraer officials cited the 700-plus aging Lockheed Martin C-130s as a long-term opportunity for their respective aircraft.
As per Reuters, Embraer is confident that it could accrue annual KC-390 sales worth U.S. $1.5 billion, while Lockheed has little doubt in existing Hercules customers wanting to continue using the platform they trust through new models – the C-130J Super Hercules and LM-100J for military and civilian use, respectively.
The KC-390 is capable of ferrying 23 tons in cargo, which is on-par with the Hercules’ 22-ton capacity. The KC-390 is powered by two International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500-E5 turbofan engines, which provide the KC-390 with a range of 2,815 km at full-load. The IAI V2500-E5 is the same turbofan that powers the Airbus A320, and Embraer claims that this helps confer the KC-390 with arguably the lowest lifecycle costs among medium-lift transport aircraft. The KC-390 also doubles as an in-flight refuelling tanker; Embraer recently ran a dry-contact test with Brazilian Air Force (FAB) F-5s using Cobham’s Wing Air Refueling Pod system.
The C-130J-30 can fly 3,334 km at full-load (i.e. 22 tons) and is powered by four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop engines. Like its precursor variants, the Super Hercules can be flown from unfinished airstrips, and it possesses credible hot-and-high performance attributes. Like the KC-390, the C-130J-30 can double as an in-flight refuelling tanker. Unlike the KC-390 however, the C-130J-30 already has a strong customer base comprising of NATO and non-NATO users. Currently, Peru is considering to procure C-130Js.
Nonetheless, Embraer could see inroads. At LAAD, the Brazilian government announced that it will offer credit for its defence exports with terms for as long as 25 years, and that too with five-year grace periods. This program may provide Embraer a credible means to access cost-sensitive markets, particularly those seeking to reduce their dependence on Western suppliers. The FAB is scheduled to receive its first two KC-390s in 2017. Embraer is hoping to secure its first KC-390 customer in 2017. Embraer may also develop a civilian variant of the KC-390 to directly compete with the LM-100J.