Embraer’s KC-390 Millennium tanker-transport has marked a major operational milestone in Brazilian service, after the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB, Brazilian Air Force) completed the type’s first official air-to-air refuelling (AAR) mission on August 9.
The successful completion of the KC-390’s first operational AAR exercise, which was carried out over the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, was announced by the FAB on August 18. The flight involved KC-390 (serial FAB 2857) and personnel from the air arm’s 1st Troop Transport Group (1º GTT); the 1st Squadron of the 1st Transport Group (1º/1º GT) and the 1st Fighter Aviation Group (1° GAVCA), along with instructors from the type's original equipment manufacturer, Embraer.
For the KC-390’s first operational AAR training exercise, two 1° GAVCA-operated Northrop F-5EM/FM Tiger II fighters departed Base Aérea de Santa Cruz (BASC, Santa Cruz Air Base) and linked up with the Millennium. The two fighters received a total of 6,393lb (2,900kg) of fuel from the KC-390 before returning to their respective base. The Millennium is capable of transferring up to 50,000lb (22,679kg or 25 US tons) of fuel to receiving aircraft, delivering it at a minimum rate of approximately 800 litres per minute using the hose-and-drogue method of AAR. The KC-390 can be fitted with two hose-and-drogue refuelling pods (with one being carried under each wing).
The FAB praised the success of this training mission in announcing its completion on August 18, highlighting that “after a week of training, the KC-390 aircraft and its crew became capable of carrying out [AAR] missions, leaving the FAB ready to meet the most diverse strategic demands.”
Aviator Colonel Renato Leal Leite, commander of Base Aérea de Anápolis (BAAN, Anápolis Air Base) – home of 1º GTT – and the director of this AAR exercise, said: “We have taken another step in the process of preparing our crews for the KC-390 Millennium multi-mission aircraft. The ability to perform in-flight refuelling in a country of continental dimensions like Brazil is essential in a modern theatre of operations and brings us closer to the desired operational excellence.”