Gavião Peixoto (Brazil) (AFP) – Brazilian planemaker Embraer unveiled its new KC-390 military transport Tuesday as the country expands its foray into the global security and defence air transport market.
Developing the KC-390, the biggest plane Embraer has produced, cost 4.6 billion reais ($US1.9 billion), paid by the Brazilian Air Force in partnership with Argentina, the Czech Republic and Portugal.
The new aircraft was presented at Embraer’s testing facility at Gaviao Peixoto in Sao Paulo state at a ceremony attended by Brazil’s defence minister, Celso Amorim.
“This significant stage in the KC-390 program demonstrates Embraer’s ability to bring a complete hi-tech project to fruition,” said Jackson Schneider, the firm’s president of security and defence.
Saito said the new aircraft would comprise “the backbone of the air force’s transport aviation,” as the plane can operate in a range of conditions “from the Amazon to the Antarctic.”
Nelson During, analyst with specialist site Defesanet, dubbed the KC-390 the largest military vehicle developed in the Southern Hemisphere that would take Embraer “to a new business level.”
Embraer is targeting 728 sales of the new aircraft in 77 countries for receipts of $US50 billion.
Last May, the company signed a contract with the FAB to supply 28 KC-390 over ten years in a $US3.2 billion deal as the FAB gradually retires the US Lockheed Hercules C-130.
Amorim said co-developers Argentina, the Czech Republic and Portugal had also signaled their intention to buy airframes, as had Colombia and Chile.
The KC-390 project, largely financed by the FAB, was launched in 2009.
The medium-size, twin-engine jet-powered aircraft is capable of transporting up to 23 tons of cargo and boasts a maximum cruising speed of 860 kilometers (550 miles) per hour.
The plane will provide logistical back-up on military, humanitarian and search-and-rescue missions.
Embraer, the world’s third-largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft behind US giant Boeing and Europe’s Airbus, did not indicate the unit price of the plane, due in service by year’s end.
The company is one of Brazil’s biggest exporters and boasted a record $US22 billion of order book business at the end of the third quarter.
Earlier Tuesday, some 7,000 Embraer personnel demanding a 10 per cent pay rise began a one-day strike. The company has offered 6.6 per cent.