The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) KC-390 is now enabled to perform F-5 Tiger II and A-1 (AMX) fighter flight refueling missions. Fuel transfer tests on day and night flights were conducted in the third quarter with FAB teams from Canoas (Wing 3) and Santa Maria (Wing 4) air bases.
By 2017, the KC-390 had conducted the first FAB fighter “dry contact” tests. In this type of operation the aircraft connect, but there is no fuel transfer.
Embraer’s multi-mission freighter, recently named C-390 Millennium, can refuel other aircraft in flight through two wing-mounted probes, delivering up to 1,500 liters of fuel per minute. At this rate you can replenish the F-5 and A-1M internal tanks in less than two minutes.
Using three extra tanks, the KC-390 can carry a total of 35 tons of fuel – the aircraft’s standard capacity is 23 tons. According to Embraer data, the aircraft is capable of performing aerial refueling operations at speeds between 220 km/h and 560 km/h at altitudes ranging from 610 meters to 9,750 m.
The Brazilian Air Force has confirmed to the website that all ordered KC-390s (28 units in all) can be equipped with in-flight refueling equipment. Until then, this function was performed only by two KC-130s, a version of the veteran C-130 Hercules turboprop for aerial refueling operations.
The FAB also added that it plans to begin flight refueling trials of the KC-390 with H-36 Caracal (Airbus H225M) helicopters from next year. The Embraer military freighter is also designed to be refueled in flight, but the air force has not yet set a deadline for these tests to begin. In the future, the aircraft will also be able to refuel the F-39 Gripen fighters.
The first KC-390 was received by the Brazilian Air Force in September this year and a second aircraft should be delivered to the Air Force by the end of this year.