BRASILIA, Brazil, April 6 (UPI) -- Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer and the Brazilian air force have selected BAE Systems to provide part of the overall cockpit controls for the KC-390 military transport aircraft, the European defense manufacturer said.
Embraer is fielding the KC-390 as a potential substitute not only for C-130 Hercules and later upgrades but also other European and Russian competitors in tactical military transport.
The Brazilian company has already taken on competition in the civilian executive jet category and light attack aircraft, offered as "affordable" alternatives to developing countries on attractive financial terms.
Last year Embraer picked BAE Systems to provide flight control electronics for the aircraft, as one of its several partners drawn from the global defense aviation industry.
Embraer's initiative, although potentially taking customers away from competitors, is welcomed by the suppliers amid a continuing downtown in defense demand.
"We are very pleased that Embraer Defense and Security and the Brazilian air force have selected our fifth-generation active side stick," said Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems' commercial aircraft solutions.
"This is a strategic win for BAE Systems, and positions us to provide a stick-to-surface solution for the KC-390 aircraft."
The KC-390 is a twin-turbofan powered medium-weight transport jet that can be refueled in flight and used for in-flight or on-ground refueling of other aircraft. BAE Systems says it has more than 20 years of experience in developing and producing active pilot controls.
The company says its active side sticks, part of Embraer's order, have additional features and benefits when compared with competing pilot control technologies.
These include electrical linking between pilot and co-pilot and changes in the force-feel characteristic depending on the flight modes and condition of the aircraft.
BAE Systems says it has more than 20,000 systems in service worldwide on both commercial and military aircraft.
As part of the order, Embraer will receive hardware and software, system design and support integration of the active sticks and flight control electronics.
Development of the civil-certified active stick system will be performed at BAE System's facility in Rochester, England.
Eduardo Bonini Santos Pinto, Embraer's senior vice president operations and chief operating officer, said the contract was part of the effort to equip the KC-390 with "state-of-the-art equipment."
BAE Systems has close supplier links with the Brazilian military and runs an office in Brasilia. It provided support for naval guns, radar and armored vehicles for Brazilian armed forces and is on the lookout for more partnerships with Brazilian defense and security industries.