Brazilian Air Force (FAB) should count on two widebodies A330 cargo jets in the near future to be used in missions that today depend on large aircraft, as in the case of transporting oxygen cylinders to the city of Manaus due to the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.
The information was revealed by President Jair Bolsonaro in a live broadcast on the Internet on Thursday. “R$ 500 million (about $92 million) is coming from one of those ‘pranks’ of the past. And we are looking for a way to serve the Air Force, there are two A230 (A330) cargo planes. They are two cargo planes that we don’t have. Look at the difficulty we had to bring oxygen to Manaus”, said the representative.
Bolsonaro explained that the Attorney General’s Office is seeking to recover resources from past corruption cases, but without specifying the origin or a prediction of when these planes will be acquired. Currently, the Air Force has been using its transport planes such as the KC-390, C-130, C-105, among others, to take supplies to Brazilian states, but the small capacity ends up becoming a logistical difficulty.
Since 2018, FAB has not had a large transport jet, when the lease for a Boeing 767-300 was concluded. The air force has been trying since 2013 to acquire replacements for the four KC-137s that were deactivated that year, but the KC-X2 competition, won by the Israeli company IAI for converting two 767s, ended up not being carried forward.
Years ago, the air force intended to acquire another Boeing 767, but the bid was changed to a lease. The bidding was cancel because the leasing costs were practically equivalent to the purchase of the same plane.
Bolsonaro’s citation of the A330 model seems to suggest the military version of the Airbus aircraft, called the MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport), however, it is a very expensive jet, with a unit price that can reach $ 300 million.
Even the purchase of used A330s depends on demand and supply. Last year, the French government purchased three used jets for 200 million euros to be converted to the MRTT standard.
Recently, the Brazilian government chartered an A330 from the Azul airline to search for vaccines in India, due to the lack of a capable aircraft in the Air Force.