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Portugal joins KC-390 program

SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Portugal and Brazil have signed a Declaration of Intent for Portugal's participation in the development of Embraer's KC-390 military transport.

Aircraft manufacturer Embraer said the declaration in Lisbon by Brazil's Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and the National Defense Minister of Portugal Augusto Santos Silva opens the door for Portuguese companies to help in aircraft development.

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"We have strong historic ties of bilateral cooperation with Portugal and are very enthusiastic about their future participation in the KC-390 program, which will contribute decisively to strengthening that country's aeronautics cluster," said Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer president and chief executive officer. "There is a lot of work yet to be done. The preliminary studies have been concluded and we are moving ahead to establish the final configuration of the aircraft and the primary suppliers."

Embraer, founded as a Brazilian government initiative in 1969 and later privatized, envisions the KC-390 as a replacement for Lockheed Martin's C-130.

"It is designed to be superior to the C-130," an Embraer executive was quoted recently by the publication FlightGlobal. "The Brazilian air force could have purchased the C-130J but this aircraft will do more for less, so that's the challenge we have ahead of us. It's as simple as that. We have a contract to produce a product that will do that job."

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Embraer say the KC-390's cargo deck will be about 58 feet long and 11 feet wide.

The company is developing the aircraft under a $1.3 billion contract from the Brazilian air force.

Portugal is the third country to sign an agreement to discuss involvement in an international partnership for the KC-390 in less than a month. In August, the Chilean government made official its interest in participating in the program through Enaer (Empresa Nacional de Aeronáutica), as well as to acquire six aircraft.

Colombia also signed a Declaration of Intent for cooperating and a future purchase of 12 airplanes.

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