As the Indian Air Force (IAF) eyes for a new tactical transport aircraft, Brazilian aerospace manufacturing giant Embraer may potentially be offering an option in the form of the C-390. The Embraer offering is fresh from a win against American Defence and Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s C130-H Super Hercules in the Netherlands.
Earlier this month Financial Express Online had reported quoting officials that Brazilian aircraft manufacturer is “in talks” with Indian authorities and has offered its C-390 Millennium. Recently the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands chose the C-390M to replace the C-130H Hercules, with the first transport aircraft to be delivered by 2026.
C-390: A Tale of the Tape
The C-390 was inducted into the Brazilian Air Force on 4 September 2019. The following saw the company announce on 18 November 2019 at the Dubai Air show that the aircraft would be called C-390 Millennium in the global market. The C-390 Millennium is a medium-size, twin-engine, jet-powered military transport aircraft.
The aircraft has a load capacity of 26,000 kg and is capable of performing a multitude of operational roles ranging from transporting VIPs to cargo along with carrying out more challenging logistical operations including aerial refueling. The C-390 is the heaviest aircraft manufactured by Embraer.
The aircraft operates with a three person flight crew; this included two pilots and a loadmaster. The Millennium can carry 80 troops, or a combination 74 stretchers and eight attendants or 66 paratroopers. Other combinations which the aircraft would accommodate are 7 463L master pallets or 6 463L master pallets and 36 troops.
Embraer in Talks with the IAF
As New Delhi and Sao Paulo maintain strong bilateral relations and are members of the BRICS grouping, the C390 offering is seen by observers as being a natural extension. If the deal is secured, then it is likely to further cement defence ties. The Brazilian manufacturer believes that the C-390 Millennium is the best option for the IAF.
Jackson Schneider, President & CEO, Embraer Defense & Security had previously told Financial Express Online: “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 integrating it in the plane, Indian solutions not only for India but other countries as well.”
“Campaigns do not just conclude in two to three months, they require time but we are very very optimistic. India offers a more than viable market and the geopolitical proximity with Brazil helps. During the BRICS chapter I interacted with the delegation from New Delhi extensively. 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.
When asked if the C-390 meets the IAF’s operational requirements, the company official had told Financial Express Online: “Yes. The plane has the capability to undertake missions across different terrains and extreme environments in the country. It can be part of a quick response team and when needed to carry out other missions too.”
Has C-130J Been Shot Down For IAF Contract?
Embraer’s recent victory against American industry counterpart Lockheed Martin may further embolden Indian policymakers to consider the C-390 offering. The Netherlands defence ministry considered multiple options to replace its C-130s. Their research suggested that the C-390M was better than Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, which was considered an alternative and a strong contender with a stellar operational record.
The IAF has operates a dozen C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, the first of which was ordered in 2007 and has been looking to induct more into its fleet.
Lockheed Martin had bagged a USD328.8 million, five-year contract from the IAF, to provide dedicated and comprehensive support for its Super Hercules fleet. Given its history with the C-13OJs, the Lockheed Martin offering could prove to be a tough contender for Embraer’s C-390 millennium.
If the results from the Netherlands are a precedent, the IAF may shift its gaze to Embraer for its C-390 offering, which it is reportedly in talks with. Both the C-130J Super Hercules and C-390 Millennium are likely to duke it out to meet the IAF’s requirements, only time will tell which aircraft will prevail!