In a potential boost to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) transport capabilities, Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has revealed it is “in talks” with Indian authorities with its C-390 Millennium offering.
The aircraft is a medium-size, twin-engine, jet-powered military transport aircraft which, if inducted will give the IAF significant heavy lift capabilities.
Financial Express Online exclusively reveals what the company has to offer along with other verticals it looks to collaborate with India. Both nations maintain cordial bilateral relations, and the C390 offering if secured will further cement these ties in the defence domain.
Jackson Schneider, President & CEO, Embraer Defense & Security told Financial Express Online, “In the C390 we are absolutely sure that it is the right product for India. In India to be candid we are at the beginning of the process with the Indian authorities. And we believe with the right Indian partner and the right approach, we will be able to deliver for India the best solution even integrating in the plane Indian products, capacities and capabilities for the plane.
“We are absolutely open to integrate it in the plane, Indian solutions not only for India but other countries as well,” Jackson Schneider President & CEO added.
The aerospace giant of Brazil has together with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) collaborated to produce three ‘Netra’ AEW&C on the Embraer ERJ145 platform which is operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Also, Embraer’s Legacy 600 jets are being operated by the IAF and Border Security Force (BSF) for the transportation of government officials and VIPs.
Possibility of selling C-390 and other platforms to India & BRICS
In response to another question regarding the company looking at India, according to Jackson Schneider President & CEO, “India is a great market it is one of the countries that we are close to geopolitically. I was representing Brazil in the BRICS chapter and I engaged in many talks with India. India has in defence a very complimentary industry. We are very open to discussing and doing more things together. As we did in the past, we are open to seeing both countries developing things together, and developing solutions together.
“There are campaigns which do not conclude in 2-3 months, they require time but we are very optimistic,” explained a company executive.
Which other Air Forces have placed order for these aircraft?
According to Jackson Schneider President & CEO, “The Hungarian Defence Force and the Portuguese Armed Forces have signed for the C-390 Millennium’s multi-mission aircraft.” The deliveries are scheduled to start 2023.
These two countries have signed up for aircraft with air-to-air refueling (AAR) configuration. These aircraft with are fully NATO compatible can be used to refuel the JAS 39 Gripen which the Hungarian Air Force is operating.
Portugal has placed an order for five Embraer C-390 Millennium and the first aircraft will be delivered next year and will be supporting the operations carried out by the Armed Forces of that country as well as increase readiness in missions which of national interest.
Is it suitable for IAF?
Yes. The plane has the capability to undertake missions across different terrains and extreme environment in the country. It can be part of quick response team and when needed to carry out other missions too.
This aircraft has to the capability to be used as a mid-air refueller and can be of great help to the IAF. Last year talks were going on with the Airbus for leasing A 330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) to meet urgent requirement of refueling aircraft mid-air.
And in an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, a top company executive of the US aerospace company Boeing has said that the company is open to the idea of leasing KC-46tanker, which is a derivative of the Boeing 767 passenger aircraft to the IAF.
Currently there are six Russian IL-78 tankers which are now facing major maintenance and serviceability issues.
Meanwhile, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Israel Aerospace Industries have inked a MoU to work under Make in India initiative to convert a civil aircraft to a Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) aircraft.
More about C390
According to the company’s presentation, the Embraer C-390 Millennium is multi-mission medium airlift aircraft. The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has five C-390s in its transport fleet. The aircraft which are produced at the Gavião Peixoto factory, in São Paulo, Brazil is capable of transporting troops & cargo, can be used for aerial refueling, fire fighting, medical evacuation, search and rescue and wide range of missions.
FAB has operated these aircraft in various domestic and international humanitarian missions — carrying medical and essential supplies during COVID-19 global pandemic; went on a mission to the Republic of Lebanon in 2020.
In 2021 it participated in Operation Culminating, in the United States – operational joint exercise including the Brazilian Air Force & Army and the USAF and US Army.
(The travel for the story was sponsored by Embraer, Brazil)