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Portugal begins KC-390 operations

One of the three KC-390 tanker-transport aircraft to be fielded by the Portuguese Air Force. (Victor Barreira)

The Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa: FAP) formally started operations with the first Embraer KC-390 Millennium medium-lift tanker-transport aircraft on 19 October.

The service said that the delivery flight between Brazil and Portugal marked the beginning of the KC-390's operational activity within the FAP.

The aircraft with tail number 26901 is scheduled to achieve the initial operational capability (IOC) in March 2024, the FAP told Janes .

Portugal became the first export client of the Brazilian-made aircraft when on 22 August 2019 it acquired five aircraft worth EUR827 million (USD873.27 million) for the Squadron 506 ‘Rinocerontes'.

The second aircraft is scheduled to be received in March 2024 and the last in March 2027, the FAP said.

The KC-390 programme for Portugal also involves building new infrastructure and support equipment and refurbishing existing facilities at Air Base No 11 in Beja; the acquisition of a full flight simulator from Rheinmetall and associated maintenance and ground support equipment; and the maintenance of the aircraft and the IAE V2500-E5 engines.

Related NATO-standard equipment was purchased through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, including Viasat's Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) Link 16 tactical datalink terminal, the Rockwell Collins AN/ARC-210 very-high frequency (VHF)/ultra-high frequency (UHF) software-defined radio, and a Mod 5 identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system, the FAP said.

The KC-390 airlifter is to perform a wide range of roles in the FAP, including troop and cargo transport, aerial refuelling, firefighting, aerial delivery, search-and-rescue, and medical evacuation.

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