The Portuguese government has decided to proceed with the purchase of five KC-390 aircraft, with one more on option, and has authorized the opening of negotiations with Embraer to buy the new aircraft to replace the C-130s now is service.
According to a resolution approved today by the Council of Ministers, the negotiation with Embraer Defense and Security was authorized for the acquisition of five KC-390 aircraft, with an option for a sixth aircraft, a flight simulator (full flight CAT D simulator) for installation and operation in national territory. The resolution does not indicate values or deadlines.
The aircraft will replace the C-130 aircraft of the Portuguese Air Force and can be used for transportation, cargo and troop launches, aerial refueling, search and rescue, and fire-fighting.
The KC-390's ability to be used in direct firefighting is a matter of particular interest to the Portuguese Government, given the possibility that the Air Force may participate in such missions.
In a statement, the government justified the option, highlighting the "strategic importance that the aeronautics industry can play for the country's economic development, with its capacity to stimulate and value investment in innovation" and "to stimulate the creation of networks of technology-based companies."
Portugal is involved in the KC-390 project through CEIIA (development and testing) and the Embraer subsidiaries in the country: OGMA in Alverca and the Évora factories (component construction).
Ministry of Defense source said that negotiations with Embraer will be led by Defense Minister Azeredo Lopes, who will be assisted by a team including representatives of the ministries of Finance, Economy and Science and Higher Education.
Within three months, the working group will "agree with Embraer on the terms and technical and financial conditions for the acquisition of aircraft, setting the maximum amounts of funding," financial programming and schedule, according to the Ministry of Defense.
The negotiations will include the "logistical support" of the aircraft, with specific technical and operational configurations defined by the Air Force.