Sweden, South Korea, India…Embraer expects to close a new sale of the C-390 Millennium soon

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer has several battle fronts to seek another order for the airlifter after three sales announced in 2023

Embraer is present at the Dubai Airshow, but without sales announcements. If there has been a lack of orders so far, at least the Brazilian company has given the impression that new deals are very close to occurring.

The main conversations between its executives and journalists present at the event involved the C-390 Millennium, an airlifter developed as a more modern and efficient alternative to the C-130 Hercules.

Since 2022, the jet aircraft has had three victories in competitions in Europe. First, the Netherlands announced that it intends to order five C-390s and in September it was Austria’s turn to confirm its interest in four aircraft.

Last month, the Czech Republic, the program’s partner, selected the Embraer plane to equip its air force with two units.

In Dubai, however, no new orders, despite Embraer being in negotiations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, countries in the region.

Indian Air Force C-390 renderings (Embraer)

Speaking to Aviation Week, the CEO of the Defense and Security division, João Bosco Costa Jr., pointed to South Korea as the closest potential request. The winner of the LTA-II competition is expected to be announced in the first week of December.

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) intends to order four to six cargo aircraft and the C-390’s rival is the C-130J, an updated variant of Lockheed Martin’s four-engine turboprop.

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Despite having closed partnerships with South Korean companies to support the fleet in the event of victory, the competition is quite difficult.

The ROKAF already operates the C-130J and is a close partner of the United States. Furthermore, KAI, a state-owned manufacturer, is studying a transport plane similar to the Millennium, but with a greater load capacity. The future of the aircraft is uncertain, however.

Micael Johansson, President and CEO of Saab, and Bosco da Costa Junior, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security (Embraer)

India could give rise to largest aircraft order

Not far from the United Arab Emirates is perhaps the most sought-after deal. The Indian Air Force has released a request for information for the MTA program, which could mean an order for 40 to 80 aircraft.

India’s need is quite consistent with Embraer’s proposal and eventual production in the country would be an undeniable advantage for the local industry, given that the C-390 is a cutting-edge aircraft.

The competition, however, may still take time to conclude and may require very complex negotiations on technology transfer and division of labor.

Finally, Sweden currently appears to be the most likely customer for the Brazilian plane. The Nordic country’s Air Force needs to replace its old Hercules and even announced a plan to rely on the C-130J, but that was scrapped at the beginning of the year.

Republic of Korea Air Force C-130J Hercules (weichen_kh)

What is at stake, in this case, is a partnership between Embraer and Saab, who became closer during the management of the F-X2 program, supplying Gripen E/F fighters to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).

The two companies have already sealed an agreement in which together they will propose the C-390 Millennium for the Swedish Air Force, a partnership that was reinforced during the Dubai Airshow.

It is, therefore, a win-win situation: Sweden buys the C-390 while Brazil expands its order for Gripen fighters.

The next few months will tell who Millennium’s seventh client will be.


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