South Korea is set to become Asia’s first operator of the C-390 Millennium transport aircraft following the Defense Acquisition Program Administration's (DAPA) announcement that Embraer was the winner of the Large Transport Aircraft (LTA) II public tender to provide the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) with new military transport aircraft.
Under the contract, Embraer will provide an undisclosed number of C-390 Millennium aircraft specially configured to meet ROKAF’s requirements, as well as services and support including training, ground support equipment and spare parts. The value of the contract will be included in Embraer’s backlog in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Embraer will also provide a comprehensive consortium and offset package including a significant amount of C-390 Millennium parts to be locally manufactured by Korean partner companies and the development of a local maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) provider.
“We welcome the Republic of Korea Air Force to the growing number of air forces operating the C-390 Millennium – the most modern military tactical transport aircraft,” said Bosco da Costa Jr, president and CEO, Embraer Defense & Security. “Day after day, the aircraft has proven its capability to complete a wide range of missions with great efficiency, serviceability and speed. This is a new era in Brazil-South Korea relations and together with our Korean partners, we are committed to growing the capabilities of its aerospace and defence industries.”
South Korea is the seventh nation to select the C-390 after Brazil, Portugal, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic. Embraer says the C-390 is redefining military airlift and challenging the thinking behind current and future generation platforms, with multi-mission capability, reliability and interoperability built by design.
Since entering operations with the Brazilian Air Force in 2019 and most recently with the Portuguese Air Force in 2023, the current fleet of aircraft in operation has accumulated more than 10,800 flight hours, with operational availability of around 80%, according to Embraer, and mission completion rates above 99%..
The C-390 can carry more payload (26 tons) compared to other medium-sized military transport aircraft and flies faster (470 knots) and farther, being capable of performing a wide range of missions such as transporting and dropping cargo and troops, medical evacuation, search and rescue, firefighting, and humanitarian missions, operating on temporary or unpaved runways such as packed earth, soil, and gravel.
The aircraft configured with air-to-air refueling equipment, with the designation KC-390, has already proven its aerial refueling capacity both as a tanker and as a receiver, in this case by receiving fuel from another KC-390 using pods installed under the wings.