Brazilian firm, Embraer, launches bid to supply India with medium transport aircraft - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 28 August 2023

Brazilian firm, Embraer, launches bid to supply India with medium transport aircraft

Embraer's Millennium C-390 can fill the space in the IAF between the heavy C-17 Globemaster III and the light Airbus C-295


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 29th August 23


Two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the Group of Seven Summit in Hiroshima, Brazil has made a strong pitch for providing India with medium transport aircraft (MTA) for which the Indian Air Force (IAF) has issued a global tender.


Launching its MTA campaign in New Delhi on Monday, Brazil’s state-owned aerospace company, Empresa Brazileira de Aeronautica (Embraer S.A. or Brazilian Aeronautics Corporation) briefed the press on the capabilities of its C-390 Millennium cargo lifter, which Embraer executives claimed made it ideal for the IAF.


“An Embraer C-390 Millennium Day will be held in New Delhi on August 29. This event seeks to deepen engagement with the aerospace and defence industry in India and provide more information on Embraer’s suite of defence and security products and solutions, in particular, the C-390 Millennium,” announced the company on Tuesday.


Embraer’s C-390 Millennium MTA was first introduced into operational service in the Forca Aerea Brasileira (FAB, or Brazilian Air Force) in 2019. The FAB currently flies 19 Millennium aircraft in its fleet.


Besides these, the Portuguese air force flies five C-390 Millennium, Hungary flies two and Netherlands flies five, with additional deliveries on the way.


The IAF is regarded as deficient in medium cargo airlift capabilities. It flies an 11-aircraft fleet of C-17 Globemaster III, very heavy lift aircraft that can carry 77-tonnes of mixed cargo. On the way out is India’s fleet of 27 Illyushin-76 heavy transport aircraft, which have a payload capacity of more than 40 tonnes.


In the tactical airlifter category, the IAF has roughly 100 Antonov-32 aircraft, which can carry either 7.5 tonnes of cargo, or 50 passengers, or 42 paratroopers, or 24 patients and three medical crew. The IAF is also in the process of acquiring 56 C-295 tactical airlifters from Airbus Defence and Space, which can carry nine tonnes of payload, or up to 71 personnel, at a maximum cruise speed of 260 knots (480 km/h).


Embraer hopes the Millennium C-390 can fill the space between the heavy C-17 Globemaster III and the light Airbus C-295. The Brazilian aircraft can carry a load of 26 tonnes, placing it in the MTA category – with the ability to airlift 18-30 tonnes of cargo. It can be configured to perform various roles such as troop, VIP and cargo transportation, as well as the more specialised logistical operation of an aerial refuelling tanker.


Alternatively, the C-390 Millennium can carry a payload of two fully-tracked M-113 armoured personnel carriers, one Boxer armoured vehicle, up to 80 soldiers or 66 paratroopers with full gear, or a Sikorsky H-60 helicopter kitted up with 74 litters with life-support equipment.


In responding to the IAF’s tender, vendor companies are required to provide Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) cost of the aircraft. Costing is required to be carried out for three separate batches of aircraft: 40 aircraft, 60 aircraft and 80 aircraft respectively.


Bidding companies are required to submit offers in accordance with a “Single Stage-Two Bid System”. Each vendor must present a ‘Request for Proposal’ that includes technical and commercial offers together, but in two separate sealed envelopes. The commercial offers must be valid for at least 18 months. 


The technical offers will be evaluated by a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) to check its compliance with RFP. 


Vendors whose equipment has been cleared by the TEC would also undergo trial evaluation in India on a “No Cost No Commitment” basis. A staff evaluation would be carried out by SHQ to analyse the result of field evaluation and shortlist the equipment for introduction into service. 


Finally, a “Contract Negotiation Committee” (CNC) will decide the lowest cost bidder (L1) from amongst the vendors cleared by GS evaluation. 


Deliveries of the MTA are required to commence within 36 months of signing a contract. 


Vendors are required to provide product support for the time period specified in the RFP. This includes spares and maintenance tools, jigs and fixtures for field and component level repairs. 


Embraer has made more headway in India with its executive jets than with military aircraft. There are 39 Embraer aircraft flying here: eight military aircraft, eight commercial jets and 23 executive aircraft.


But now the company’s pitch with the medium transport aircraft could give Embraer sales volume that would make India its biggest and more lucrative market. 


  1. You forgot to mention C-130J of IAF with 19 ton payload.

    1. The C-130 is a multirole tactical airlifter not a medium cargo airlifter.


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