India and Brazil Strengthening Defence Cooperation

By Devendra Singh

Foreign Affairs

The CEO of the Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer, Francisco Gomes Neto, has emphasised the growing defence cooperation between India and Brazil ahead of his participation in the B20 Summit in New Delhi, which is scheduled from August 25 to 27. Defence delegations from Brazil will also attend the summit along with him. Gomes Neto will also co-chair the Inclusive GVCs for Resilient Global Trade and Investment Task Force.

Embraer is the world’s largest non-Western aircraft supplier as well as the third-largest civil aircraft manufacturer behind Airbus and Boeing, and it is making significant efforts to strengthen its position in Asia’s expanding narrow-body passenger jet market.

Embraer is holding talks to supply passenger jets to Indian airlines by 2024. India is the fastest-growing aviation market but it has not yet received any deliveries from Embraer despite the fact that both countries have so many similarities in demography, geography, cultural diversity, and economic growth. Embraer is also in talks with India to deliver warplanes. The company has stated that if orders are obtained, Embraer may open a manufacturing facility with a local partner in India.

Defence and Space Partnership

Gomes Neto said Embraer manufactures products and systems for various sectors such as defence and security, commercial, executive and urban air mobility. The company has designed, built and introduced aircraft. He said Embraer has made a broader impact in connecting people, families, and businesses through accessible air travel, which echoes India’s G20 Presidency theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.

The Embraer CEO said there is huge potential for continued partnerships between Embraer and Indian institutions as well as companies. He cited the successful collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in developing the ERJ145 AEW&C, known as Netra.

He said the collaboration exemplifies the strength of joint efforts in defence and aerospace, aligning with India’s vision of self-reliance and boosting national security in an evolving global landscape.

Joint Aspirations in Civil Aviation

Regarding civil aviation, Gomes Neto praised India for transforming its airports into aviation hubs and enhancing regional connectivity. He said Embraer’s aircraft are specialists in unlocking the potential of regional connectivity, evident from airlines worldwide operating the E-Jets.

Gomes Neto spoke about the C-390 Millennium, a medium-size, twin-engine, jet-powered military transport aircraft designed and produced by Embraer. The aircraft achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) with the Brazilian Air Force in April 2023.

He stressed the C-390’s versatility, from air-to-air and in-flight refuelling (AAR) to medical evacuation, airborne troop and cargo transport, and firefighting. The aircraft’s ability to operate on short or unpaved runways showcases its sturdiness.

He said Embraer’s commitment to high reliability and efficiency is evident through the platform’s minimal maintenance requirements and rapid reconfiguration using conversion kits. Its operational capabilities at high altitudes align with India’s needs, particularly in the Northern sector.

The modern features of the C-390 and its efficient mission completion rate allow the aircraft to be part of a quick response team to address issues along India’s vast borders or within. The C-390 Millennium requires fewer on-demand inspections and maintenance, combined with proven highly reliable systems and components, which reduces the time on the ground and overall operating costs. This equates to excellent dispatch rates (reliability, maintainability, and availability) and low life-cycle costs.

After the C-390 participated in Aero India 2023, the aircraft has been under discussion and Gomes Neto wants to extend these conversations, strengthening the value proposition of the C-390 and fostering a collaborative future between Brazil and India. With cooperation in defence, aerospace and civil aviation, India and Brazil are on a path to realise their shared goals with promising prospects.