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The twin-engine, C-390 Millennium multi-mission tactical transport aircraft from Brazil’s Embraer made its Asian debut on static display at Aero India 2023, which ran from 13-17 February in Yelahanka, Bangalore.

Attracting large crowds and generating interest among visitors, the C-390 Millenium was complemented by an Embraer portfolio that included the A-29 Super Tucano turboprop light attack aircraft, the P600 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform and various radars and border surveillance solutions.

“We are proud to bring Embraer’s iconic C-390 Millennium to India for our guests to experience the true capabilities of this 21st Century military multi-mission aircraft,” said Bosco da Costa Jr, President and CEO of Embraer Defence and Security, at the show, adding that “India is a key market for Embraer, and we are keen to establish partnerships in the country that can further boost India’s defence industries and capabilities.”

Since it entered service with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) in 2019, the C-390 has proven its capability, reliability, and performance across a variety of missions. The FAB’s current fleet of five KC-390 aircraft, all capable of aerial refuelling missions, have already accrued more than 7,500 flying hours, while recent numbers have shown a mission completion rate of 99%.

Embraer has orders for the C-390 Millennium from NATO members Portugal and Hungary, while The Netherlands, also a NATO nation, selected the type in 2022.

The C-390 is claimed by Embraer to offer a combination of high performance, low operating costs and fast turnaround times. The aircraft has a maximum payload of 26 tonnes, a maximum cruise speed of 470 kn and a range of 1,852 km (1,080 NM) with a 26-tonne payload, which compares favourably with other medium-sized military transport aircraft.

The C-390 Millennium can carry out a wide range of missions, including acting as a tanker for air-to-air refuelling of both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft as well as conducting paratroop operations, troop and cargo transport, humanitarian missions, medical evacuation, firefighting, and search-and-rescue missions. Reconfiguration between its different missions takes three hours or less using conversion kits and a built-in reconfigurable cargo floor system. The aircraft was designed to operate from semi-prepared or damaged runways as well as in a variety of environments ranging from hot-and-humid to cold-and-dry conditions.

Already operating with the Indian Air Force (IAF) is Embraer’s Netra airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. A fleet of three of these was produced by a collaboration between Embraer and India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Brazilian company has a significant presence in India through the provision of defence platforms, commercial aircraft, business jets and other systems and has also established several authorised service centres across the country with Air Works India and Indamer Aviation.

Embraer’s Legacy 600 jets, for example, are in service with IAF and also the country’s Border Security Force (BSF) for the transportation of government officials and VIPs.

Regarding any offer of the C-390 Millennium to India, an Embraer official said, “There is no proposal, but the IAF chief, along with his delegation, have come here to see the aircraft. If India is interested we can make a presentation and an offer.”

Suman Sharma