Embraer expands customer base in African aviation market

Oct. 22, 2012 at 3:59 PM
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SAO PAULO, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer is expanding to Africa's defense procurement horizon, seen to be a potentially lucrative business growth area with the rise of several West African countries as emerging markets.

Embraer has grown to be the third largest commercial plane manufacturer after Boeing and Airbus and has plans to enter the tactical transport aircraft market in direct competition with North American, European and joint Russian-Indian rivals.

But it is in Africa Embraer has found a profitable niche with its A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft.

The company said Monday it delivered a Mauritanian order for an unspecified number of A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft for deployment in the Mauritanian air force.

The delivery of the plane was made at a ceremony at Gaviao Peixoto aerodrome, near Sao Paulo, where the Embraer has a component making and testing facility.

The Super Tucano will be used in the West African country for border surveillance missions, Embraer said.

"With this delivery, we are broadening our ties with the African continent, where this aircraft has generated great interest," Embraer's defense and security unit head Luiz Carlos Aguiar said.

The competitively priced A-29 Super Tucano has edged out competitors in developing world conflict regions where governments are looking for multipurpose light aircraft that can serve their armed forces in different roles.

The Super Tucano is already in use by seven air forces in Latin America, Africa and Asia and can be used for a broad range of missions including light attack, surveillance, air-to-air interception and counterinsurgency.

Embraer has delivered 160 Super Tucano worldwide but its effort to sell the plane to the U.S. Air Force remains mired in controversy after the Air Force canceled a $355 million contract it gave Embraer and its U.S. partner Sierra Nevada Corp. for 20 of the aircraft.

The Air Force scrapped the deal after rival bidder Hawker Beechcraft took the Air Force to court when its offer of the AT-6 aircraft was disqualified, leaving SNC as the only bidder for the Light Air Support program. Some of the light aircraft were meant for the continuing training operations in Afghanistan and other countries.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has stepped into the controversy, which seems increasingly tied to other business contacts between Brazil and the United States.

Meanwhile, Embraer is expanding its aviation program and has indicated it wants to create a North American market, not only for the A-29 Super Tucano but also for its planned rival to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules and other tactical transport aircraft in the market.

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