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Embraer begins build of first Millennium airlifter for Hungary

The build of the first KC-C-390 for Hungary was announced on 11 November. (Embraer)

Embraer has begun building the first of two KC-390 Millennium aircraft for Hungary, ahead of the start of deliveries in 2024.

The Brazilian manufacturer announced the milestone on 11 November, noting that a ceremony held to mark the occasion at its Gavião Peixoto facility was attended by Hungarian government representatives.

“In the coming weeks, parts will be assembled to generate the structural panels and frames for the main components of the fuselage and semi-wings,” Embraer said.

Hungary signed for two KC-390 tanker-transports in November 2020 and its aircraft will be particularly configured for tactical transport operations, air-to-air refuelling of the service's Saab Gripen C/D fighters, and for the medical evacuation role (the Hungarian aircraft will be the first to include provisions for an intensive care unit).

Hungary has not yet disclosed where its KC-390s will be based. Although procured as national assets, the KC-390s could be used as part of the NATO Strategic Airlift Command (SAC) that is located at Pápa Airbase in Hungary. Speaking at the virtual SMi Military Airlift and Air-to-Air Refuelling 2020 conference, the commander of the SAC's Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), US Air Force Colonel James Sparrow, said, “About a year-and-a-half ago, when we first heard it was an option that Hungary was looking to buy, we did have some dialogue to work out a situation where the Hungarians could use those KC-390s within the SAC; they could fly their flight hours on those instead of the [HAW's existing three Boeing] C-17s, for example. There was nothing concrete but I would like to see how that develops; longer term, it makes sense to me.”

The KC-390 Millennium has a hold volume of 170 m

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