A PARTICULARLY INTERESTING NEW TACTICAL MILITARY TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT FROM BRAZIL
THE EMBRAER KC-390
IT’S AFTER THE C-130 SPACE—AND IT’S GOING TO GET SOME OF IT
ALL PHOTOS ARE OF THE EMBRAER KC-390 DURING ITS FEBRUARY 2015 MAIDEN FLIGHT
Unbelievably, for well over half a century, the four turboprop equipped Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules has pretty much dominated the tactical military transport aircraft market. It first flew in 1954. As of 2009, 2,300 have been made. It has proved to be a truly exceptional aircraft.
The latest version, the C-130J Super Hercules, first flew in 1996 and entered service three years later. So far over 300 have been made. By all accounts it is performing commendably. The only snag is that the international flyaway price is north of $100 million.
Embraer began studying the military tactical transport market in 2006 and the KC-390 is the impressive result. Broadly similar to the C-130, it has been designed from the beginning to be easily adaptable to a range of roles from straightforward military transport to tanker.
Apart from being a completely new design benefiting from all the latest advantages in avionics including fly-by-wire, certain features stand out.
- It will be competitively priced at about $50 million
- It is by powered by International Aero Engines V2500-E5 turbofans (jets) so will cruise at 465 kt—Mach 0.8 as opposed to the C-130J’s speed of 348 kt—Mach 0.5
- It is equipped for air-to-air refueling from the beginning.
- It will have a maximum payload of 57,320lbs (26 tons)
- It has been designed for both short-field takeoff and landing—and less than ideal terrain.
If this aircraft doesn’t do exceptionally well, I’ll be extremely surprised.
VOR words 278.