Fresh off of a hard-fought win over rival Beechcraft for Pentagon work, Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer is for the first time displaying its Super Tucano light attack aircraft at the Paris air show next week.
The aircraft on display will be one of two delivered to Mauritania, the African nation that has ordered three of the A-29s. Its first was delivered in October.
Since winning the U.S. Air Force’s Light Air Support (LAS) program, worth up to $950 million, Embraer has received renewed requests from nations interested in buying the aircraft, says Luiz Aguiar, president of Embraer’s defense unit. “It is almost automatic we are going to get more orders as long as we are able to deliver on time,” Aguiar says. He says the market, not including the U.S., could be as high as $3.5 billion, though he has ordered a study to review the potential in light of the Pentagon win.
Embraer won the LAS contract, initially worth $427 million, for 20 Super Tucanos for Afghanistan, in February with U.S. partner Sierra Nevada. That was the second LAS competition. In the first in 2011, the Air Force excluded Beechcraft from bidding due to noncompliance with the request for proposals, but a protest by Beechcraft opened the door to another duel.
“We are going to prove to [the Air Force] we are a great supplier. That is the best way to sell” to other nations, Aguiar says.
Meanwhile, work is under way to build a new final assembly facility for the U.S. aircraft in Jacksonville, Fla. The first aircraft should be through the assembly line there by November.
Meanwhile, Embraer is awaiting a request for proposals from the Brazilian ministry of defense for a new tactical unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The company has been working on a prototype called Falcao, which is expected to take to the skies late next year, Aguiar says.
The prototype is being designed and built by Harpia, a joint venture between Embraer (with a majority stake), an affiliate of Israel’s Elbit and — as of February — Avibras, a Brazilian company that specializes in systems engineering.
Once it can experiment with Falcao, Aguiar says the joint venture will better identify gaps in capability that need more development for Brazil’s needs.