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Embraer secures potential KC-390 order from SkyTech

Embraer Defense & Security announced that it signed a letter-of-intent (LOI) with the privately-owned aviation company SkyTech for the sale of six Embraer KC-390 multi-mission transport aircraft. The LOI was signed on 05 February at the Singapore Airshow.

In its press release, Embraer explains that the KC-390s will be “earmarked for multiple defense projects.”

SkyTech is a partnership between HiFly, a Portugal-based ACMI (aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance) company and Abagold Aviation, an aviation services and charter firm from Australia.

Lauding the LOI, SkyTech President Paulo Mirpuri stated, “We have been following the KC-390 program since its inception and believe that it will be a game-changer in the medium-sized airlift category as well as a multi-role platform.”

This LOI joins earlier negotiations with Portugal for six KC-390s to replace its C-130Hs.

The Embraer KC-390 is being positioned as a next-generation successor to legacy transport aircraft, such as the Lockheed Martin C-130B/E and Antonov An-12 and An-32 aircraft. Embraer envisages a market of 700-plus legacy aircraft in need of replacing, it hopes to generate $1.5 billion US a year in sales.

The KC-390 is a twin-engine jet-powered aircraft capable of ferrying 23 tons to a range of 2,815 km. It uses two International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500-E5 turbofan engines, which Embraer claims provide the KC-390 with the lowest life-cycle costs in the military transport aircraft market.

The V2500-E5 is an ubiquitous commercial airliner engine, powering the Airbus A320.

It is also capable of serving as an in-flight refueling (IFR) tanker. Using Cobham’s Wing Air Refueling Pods (WARP), the KC-390 can refuel combat aircraft through the hose-and-drogue method.

In December 2017, Embraer announced that it has brought the KC-390 to initial operating capability (IOC) with the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira: FAB). Thus far, Embraer’s two KC-390 prototypes have collectively flown 1,500+ hours along with 40,000 hours of non-flight tests.

In parallel to its immediate commercial efforts, Embraer is also engaged with Boeing to produce a formal partnership, following surrounding concerns of a potential merger.

Recently, Boeing proposed (to the Brazilian government) to raise a jointly-owned subsidiary with Embraer. This new company would be 80-90% owned by Boeing but be built upon Embraer’s commercial airliner business. In other words, Embraer-proper would retain its defence portfolio (i.e. the KC-390).