Embraer, Astronics collaborate on KC-390

Dec. 19, 2012 at 4:25 PM
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SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer will collaborate with New York defense firm Astronics Corp. as part of an effort to give the company's KC-390 tactical transport and tanker program a further push toward global markets.

Embraer is developing the KC-390 as a rival to other military transport aircraft, including fleets of C-130 Hercules worldwide that are yet to be replaced by Lockheed Martin's C-130J Super Hercules.

The Brazilian manufacturer's KC-390 is of two major military aviation programs that are aimed at global markets. The other Brazilian export, the A-29 Super Tucano, is aiming to enter the U.S. Air Force after some initial setbacks to a marketing campaign mounted by Embraer's U.S. partner, Sierra Nevada Corp.

Astronics Corp. said its wholly owned subsidiary, Luminescent Systems Inc., was selected by Embraer Defense and Security as a supplier for the KC-390 program.

Astronics will provide a complete exterior lighting system, including navigation, anti-collision, landing, taxi, aerial refueling and formation lights. The system will feature Astronics' LED technology to provide enhanced optical performance, high reliability and reduced power consumption. The KC-390 is expected to enter service in 2016.

Astronics President and Chief Executive Officer Peter J. Gundermann said Astronics has a long history as an Embraer supplier, including providing the exterior lighting system for the Phenom family of business jets.

"The KC-390 selection serves to both enhance that relationship and builds on our industry leading position of supplying best in class exterior lighting solutions for the military and commercial aerospace market," Gundermann said.

The sums involved in the contract weren't discussed by either side.

Astronics Corp., which has headquarters in East Aurora, N.Y., is a leader in advanced, high-performance lighting, electrical power, specialized avionics products and automated test systems for the global aerospace and defense industries.

Meanwhile, Embraer is pushing its campaign to get the Super Tucano light attack aircraft inducted into U.S. military fleets.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles F. "Chuck" Wald, who tried the Super Tucanco, said after the test flight "this is an awesome 21st-century airplane," Sierra Nevada Corp. said.

Wald compared the A-29 to an F-16 in terms of handling, capabilities, displays and navigation. Where the similarities end, he said, was cost.

"This airplane doesn't cost anything like an F-16 in terms of initial cost, fuel or maintenance. This is an affordable aircraft that gives you F-16-type delivery performance," he said.

The Super Tucanco's fight for the U.S. military market is far from over. The aircraft was initially chosen in a U.S. air force competition for light attack aircraft but USAF canceled the $355 million contract for 20 light-attack aircraft, originally destined for the Afghan military.

The U.S. Air Force rescinded the order after rival bidder Hawker Beechcraft complained and took the military to court.

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