Brazilian aeronautical manufacturing firm Embraer S.A has signed a contract this week, to supply Hungary with two KC-390 medium-lift transport aircraft. The contract’s price is as yet undisclosed, but will include the delivery of the aircraft along with a support package of after-market services. The after-market services in question are pilot training, technical training, the provision of spares, maintenance and the delivery of associated technical and educational literature. The Hungarian Air Force is expected to receive the order at an unspecified time in 2023. The provision of the engines will be carried out by second firm, International Aero Engines, 50% owned by Connecticut based firm, Pratt & Whitney and 50% owned by Germany’s MTU Aero Engines and Japan’s Japanese Aero Engine Corporation. The requested KC-390s are variants of the C-390 Millennium medium-lift transport platform, manufactured in Sao Paulo state, Brazil. The KC-390 differs from the C-390, being configured for an additional mid-air refuelling role. The addition of a capability to refuel fighter craft mid-air allows aircraft resupply without incurring an absence of air-cover risk for coordinated ground, aerial or naval elements. The KC-390s acquired by the Hungarian Air Force have been designed to work with Hungary’s 14 strong JAS-39 Gripen fleet acquired on lease from Saab in 2006, a contract renewed in 2015 and due to expire in 2025. The acquisition of the KC-390 has been planned in order to fulfil the current medium-lift capability gap due to June 2020’s retirement of Ukraine’s Antanov State Enterprise’s An-26 fleet.
The KC-390 is based on the body of the C-390 medium-lift transport plane. The plane’s cargo hold has a length of 18.50 and a height of 2.95 with an internal volume of 169 metres squared, the width of the compartment comes at 3.45m. The size of the hold allows the storage of a maximum weight of 26 tonnes of cargo, across seven standardized 463L master pallets. The troop transport load stands at 80 standard infantry or 66 paradrop configured infantry. The platform is also capable of carrying 74 stretchers when used as a medical evacuation aircraft. The Hungarian variety of the KC-390 can augment the vehicle’s medical evacuation role through the inclusion of an intensive care module, turning the platform into a flying hospital. The KC-390’s mid-air refuelling configuration additionally allows the transportation of 23.9 tonnes of aircraft fuel. The platform’s own onboard fuel complement, allows the KC-390s twin IAE V2500-E5 turbofan engines to operate for a range of 3,809 miles to 5,293 miles if fitted with extra fuel tanks. The plane’s engines allow the vehicle to move forward at a top speed of 613 mph and a cruise speed of 540 mph. The KC-390’s size comes in at a length of 35.20m with a wingspan of 35.05m and a height of 11.84m. The transport plane’s size requires a landing strip of 1,000m in order to dock at an airbase or an improvised landing facility for battlefield aviation. The platform’s flight ceiling is between a minimum of 18,000 feet and a maximum of 36,000 feet.
Embraer S.A is a Brazilian transnational manufacturer of aircraft based in the south eastern state of Sao Paulo. The company was founded in 1969 as the brainchild of aeronautics engineer Ozires Silva. The company is highly active in the realms of VIP transportation, commercial business jets, agricultural planes for the distribution of pesticides and the construction of military jets. The KC-390 is built through the company’s defence and security division set up in 2011. The defence and security division, based in Gaviao Peixoto, in the west of Sao Paulo state currently produces the A-29 Super Tucano counter-insurgency light attack craft and AMX ground-attack aircraft. The defence and security division has built a considerable international reputation, having previously undertaken the AMX International joint-venture to design and build 1989’s AMX ground-attack aircraft. The international presence was expanded in 2015 through their project management for the development of the Brazilian Air Force’s bespoke variant of the JAS-39 Gripen fighter. Embraer’s defence and security division currently supplies to five different national air-forces currently, mainly in Latin America with Hungary becoming the sixth. The Hungarian acquisition will mark the company’s third European partner alongside the Italian and Portuguese air forces. The Hungarian Air Force, part of the wider Hungarian Defence Forces and currently has an aircraft inventory of 42 aircraft serviced by a 5,750 personnel.