The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) plans to take its last turboprop C-130 Hercules out of service in 2024, reported Major-Brigadier Valter Borges Malta, responsible for the retrofitting programs. By then, it is expected that 17 units of the KC-390 airlifter have been delivered, or 60% of the order for 28 aircraft.

Currently, the FAB has 22 Hercules freighters, but only ten would be operational. In addition to them, Brazil has four units of the KC-390 already delivered by Embraer and should have three other aircraft in 2021.

According to local press reports, Embraer is expected to deliver three KC-390s in 2022, four in 2023 and three in 2024. Between 2025 and 2028, the manufacturer is expected to ship four units a year until it completes the 28 aircraft ordered.

Capable of carrying more cargo and a higher speed, the KC-390 is Embraer’s bet to compete with the iconic Hercules, produced since 1956 by Lockheed Martin.

The four-engine turboprop is currently offered in the C-130J variant, with more efficient engines and modern avionics. The aircraft’s high reliability is one of its strengths, which has never had a strong competitor to date.

Brazilian Air Force C-130 Hercules (FAB)

Ordered at the request of the Brazilian Air Force, the KC-390 is Embraer’s most ambitious military program. Until last year, the planemaker had a partnership with Boeing to enhance its offer to several countries, but the two companies ended up breaking the ties.

So far, the cargo jet has 35 firm orders – in addition to 28 units for Brazil, there are orders from Portugal (five aircraft) and Hungary (two units).