A video published by Embraer in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Portuguese Air Force (FAP) shows the first glimpse of the KC-390 Millennium destined for Portugal. The aircraft, with temporary Brazilian registration PT-ZDK, is currently undergoing ground tests.
Portugal is the second customer for Embraer’s tactical transport aircraft, after the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). FAP has ordered five aircraft in a deal valued at €827 million signed in 2019. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2023 and are expected to be completed by 2027.
Like Brazil, Portugal is replacing Lockheed Martin’s old fleet of C-130 Hercules turboprops. FAP currently has four Hercules in service and they are expected to remain in operation for another decade.
The KC-390s ordered by Portugal have similar requirements to Brazilian planes. They will be configured to carry out a variety of civil and military missions, including humanitarian support, medical evacuation, search and rescue, wildfire fighting, transport and launch of cargo and troops, and in-flight refueling operations from other aircraft.
Portugal is the largest international partner in the KC-390 program and participates in the development and production of the aircraft. Other countries involved in the project are Argentina and the Czech Republic, which are also listed as potential buyers of the Brazilian military aircraft.
Hungary and recently the Netherlands also ordered the multi-role aircraft from Embraer to equip their air forces. These countries, however, ordered the C-390 version, which has no aerial refueling capability.