In service with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) since September 2019, the Embraer KC-390 has among its attributions the aerial refueling of aircraft as a more efficient alternative to the KC-130 turboprops.
However, just about to complete three years of operation, the aircraft was finally used in training in this role. According to the Air Force, on August 9, the KC-390 FAB 2857 took off from Galeão Air Base to refuel two F-5 fighter jets with 2,900 kg of fuel.
The operation is part of the contract with Embraer, whose instructors followed the training, held in Rio de Janeiro.
To be able to operate as an aerial refueling aircraft, the KC-390 receives two pods with retractable hoses installed over the wings and which have a minimum flow rate of 800 liters per minute. The multi-role jet is capable of carrying up to 25 tons of fuel.
The Brazilian Air Force has lacked a jet tanker since the KC-137’s retirement about ten years ago. Despite demonstrating efficiency in fulfilling the mission for which it was designed, the KC-390 will no longer be the main aerial refueling aircraft after the decision of the current Air Force Command to acquire two Airbus A330-200, renamed KC-30.
The two widebodies, whose first plane was received in August, will be converted to the MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) standard by 2024.
In addition, the FAB is in the midst of a struggle with Embraer to reduce the initial order of 28 KC-390s to around 15 aircraft. The two partners agreed to cut six jets in March, but weeks ago the Air Force decided to unilaterally eliminate one more aircraft, which motivated the manufacturer to seek the “economic and financial rebalancing of the Contracts”.