South Korea selects Embraer C-390 for transport aircraft requirement

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has selected Embraer’s twin-turbofan powered C-390 Millennium airlifter to equip the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) with new military transport aircraft, the company announced on 4 December.

Under the for the Large Transport Aircraft (LTA) II programme worth US$544 million, Embraer will provide an undisclosed number of specially configured C-390 Millennium aircraft, as well as ancillary services and training, ground support equipment as well as spare parts.

The company’s offering edged out Airbus Defence’s A400M Atlas and Lockheed Martin’s C-130J Super Hercules, both of which are four-engine turboprop aircraft. The RoKAF is also an existing user of the C-130 platform with the C-130H and C-130J aircraft already in its fleet.

“We welcome the Republic of Korea Air Force to the growing number of air forces operating the C-390 Millennium – the most modern military tactical transport aircraft. Day after day, the aircraft has proven its capability to complete a wide range of missions with great efficiency, serviceability and speed,” said Bosco da Costa Jr, President and CEO, Embraer Defense & Security.

“This is a new era in Brazil-South Korea relations and together with our Korean partners, we are committed to growing the capabilities of its aerospace and defense industries,” he added.

According to Embraer, South Korea is the C-390 Millennium’s first customer in Asia and the seventh country to have selected the type after Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, and Czech Republic.

Embraer stated that it will also provide a comprehensive consortium and offset package including a “significant amount” of C-390 Millennium parts to be locally manufactured by Korean partner companies and the development of a local maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider.

The C-390 first entered service with the Brazilian Air Force in 2019 and most recently with the Portuguese Air Force in 2023. Embraer claims that the current fleet of aircraft in operation has accumulated over 10,800 flight hours with operational availability of around 80% and mission completion rates above 99%.

The company added that the C-390 can carry 26 tons of payload – more than other medium-sized transport aircraft – and offers better speed and range. The type can also perform a diverse range of missions such as transporting cargo and troops, medical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting, and humanitarian missions.

The KC-390 air-to-air refuelling variant offers extended range and mission flexibility with its ability to serve as a tanker as well as a receiver.

Embraer is also actively marketing the C-390 for the Indian Air Force’s tactical airlift requirement.

by Jr Ng