Brazilian Air Force, Embraer to Begin Joint Study for Surveillance Fleet Adaptation

Foreign Affairs

Santiago: Brazil’s Air Force and Embraer are beginning a joint study to look into adapting aircraft already in service to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the local firm announced April 10.

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The head of the Air Force, Gen. Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno, and the chief executive of Embraer Defence and Security, João Bosco Costa Jr., attended the company’s announcement during the FIDAE air show, which runs April 9-14 in Santiago, Chile. During the presentation, a backdrop showed a C-390 Millennium transport aircraft, a type in service with Brazil, labelled as a maritime patrol aircraft and carrying anti-ship missiles.

The Air Force has started looking for options to replace its P-3AM Orion maritime patrol aircraft beginning in 2031, a military source in the capital of Brasilia said.

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Already, companies appear keen to win a potential contract. Apart from Embraer’s announcement, the American firm Boeing put out a news release just ahead of the air show that emphasised its history in supplying the region with defence platforms.

French defence firm Airbus also attended the show, promoting its C-295 twin turboprop maritime patrol aircraft. The Air Force already operates 10 of them in a maritime search and rescue role.

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“A decision is set to be made by 2026,” media reports said quoting a military source speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic. “If the idea of developing a C-390 MPA is favoured, there will be no tender, and a contract will be awarded to Embraer soon instead.”

“If not, a tender for bids will run between 2026 and 2027. The target will be to acquire a minimum of six aircraft, spread in two batches, with [the cost] under current estimations — if P-8 or an equivalent is selected and ordered — amounting to $3 billion,” the source added. “Deliveries of the new MPAs would start in 2031, to be completed in 2036.″

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