Two years ago, at the LAAD show in Rio de Janiero, Embaer unveiled studies of a "quick and simple" military transport derivative of its E-190 large regional jet. Development was projected to cost $600 million - $400 million to be provided by the Brazilian government and $200 million by Embraer and its risk-sharing partners.
C-390, circa 2007 (Concept: Embraer)
Earlier today (Apr. 14), at the same LAAD show, Embraer signed a seven-year, $1.3 billion contract under which the Brazilian air force will fully fund the development and industrialisation of the KC-390 tanker/transport. An initial order for 22 aircraft is expected to come later. The bill is much bigger, says Embraer CEO Fred Curado, because the KC-390 is an all-new, all-military aircraft.
KC-390, circa 2009 (Concept: Embraer)
Curado says the original C-390 concept was just not up to the job. The Brazilian air force wanted an aircraft that could truly replace its C-130s - and the government, it seems, was willing to pay for it. The resulting KC-390, although outwardly similar in layout to the original concept, will be an altogether more serious animal - designed to meet and beat the C-130J in head-on competition.