SP Guide Publications puts forth a well compiled articulation of issues, pursuits and accomplishments of the Indian Army, over the years

— General Manoj Pande, Indian Army Chief

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— Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Indian Navy Chief

My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

— Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Indian Air Force Chief

A 21st Century Medium Lifter Ideal for India: KC-390 Millennium

The versatility of the Embraer C-390 Millennium makes it highly capable to operate in India, undertaking a range of missions across different terrains

Issue: 02-2023By Caetano Spuldaro Neto, Vice President Sales & Business Development, Middle East & Asia, Embraer Defense & SecurityPhoto(s): By Embraer
C-390 is a tempting option with tanker & rough field capabilities and is perfect for Indian high altitude operations

The Embraer C-390 Millennium, and its air-to-air variant, the KC-390 Millennium, is proving itself to be a force multiplier for military forces around the world. Military customers and those that have been involved in missions involving the C-390 Millennium have been impressed by how the aircraft’s performance and reliability surpasses their expectations. This comes at a time when countries are seeking to boost their military airlift and logistics capabilities in response to rapid changes in the global security environment.

The urgency to evacuate government personnel and civilians from Ukraine and Afghanistan were watershed moments that emphasise the necessity for fast, reliable and dependable airlift capabilities. Beyond geopolitical tensions, even humanitarian disasters have emphasised the necessity for Nations to be ready for unpredictable situations. The demands on aircraft operating in these challenging environments are truly unique and require specialist capabilities.

Since its entry into service to the Brazilian Air Force in 2019, the C-390 Millennium has proven its capability, reliability, and performance across a variety of challenges. The C-390 Millennium has demonstrated that it can aid air forces to swiftly respond to an array of real situations such as military operations, emergencies (evacuation of people from conflict zones eg. Ukraine in 2022), and humanitarian relief missions triggered by floods, forest fires, earthquakes, or COVID-like situations.

From operating in the harsh conditions of Antarctica to delivering vital equipment at remote airstrips in the Amazon, the C-390 Millennium is showcasing its capabilities in the extreme

The Brazilian Air Force currently operate five KC-390s and more deliveries are underway. The fleet has already accrued more than 7,500 flying hours and recent numbers from the Brazilian Air Force’s KC-390 Millennium fleet have shown a mission completion rate of 99 per cent, demonstrating outstanding productivity in its category. The KC-390 Millennium has orders from Portugal & Hungary, two NATO member countries. The Netherlands, also a NATO country, has selected the C-390 Millennium in 2022.

The key strengths of the C-390 are its robust design, dual certification approach (civil and military), greater flexibility, proven state-of-the-art technology and ease of maintenance. The C-390 Millennium flies faster (470 kts) and further on a standard crew duty day. It also carries more cargo (26 tonnes) compared to other medium sized military cargo aircraft.


Recently, the KC-390 Millennium was part of a combined humanitarian aid exercise (Operation ‘Cooperación VII’) involving a combined air component featuring aircraft from the United States, Canada, Chile, Honduras, Colombia and Brazil, in addition to military contingents from eight other countries. A total of 36 missions were carried out by the C-390, from aero logistics transport missions to airdrops, with 100 per cent availability of the aircraft throughout. It was also able to demonstrate its versatility, operating from airfields with vastly different elevations, from 570 ft through to 8,400 ft.

In October 2022, a KC-390 Millennium took part in the Multinational Combined Air Exercise SALITRE IV, performing in-flight refuelling missions. The objective of Exercise SALITRE IV, an operation in the Atacama Desert region, Chile, is to expand cooperation and relationships between air forces from South America, the US and Canada, increasing their interoperability through common planning in a NATO format. The event is also an opportunity to train crews and test command and control systems, logistics systems and personnel in all areas of defence.

Even in 2021, the aircraft demonstrated its high interoperability capabilities and impressed during Operation Culminating, an unprecedented joint training exercise between the Brazilian Air Force, the United States Army, and the Brazilian Army, to prepare paratroopers and crews for deployment in air-land operations. Throughout the exercise, the C-390 Millennium successfully demonstrated its excellent interoperability with other aircraft and armed forces performing Aerial Assault and Medical Evacuation missions.


In 2022, the Brazilian Air Force also successfully undertook cargo airdrops with the KC-390 Millennium in Antarctica, reinforcing the aircraft’s performance across varying climates and conditions. The aircraft took off from the city of Punta Arenas, south of Chile, carrying about two tons of supplies to the Brazilian research station and back non-stop. In addition, the C-390 has proven that it can take-off and land on unpaved runways, thereby delivering tactical capability with strategic reach.

Embraer also successfully completed the air refuelling qualification between two KC-390 Millennium aircraft. This aerial refuelling capability of the KC-390 Millennium aircraft means they can refuel each other using a “probe and drogue system”, adding another dimension to the aircraft’s capability increasing the versatility and range of its missions. The AAR operations by the Brazilian Air Force Squadron in the field have started in 2022.


The versatility of the Embraer C-390 Millennium makes it highly capable to operate in India, undertaking a range of missions across different terrains with a high reliability rate. In addition, the platform is certified to operate from an altitude of 14,000 ft which fits the operational requirements at high altitudes in India’s Northern sector.

The modern features of the C-390 and its impressive mission completion rate mean that the aircraft can be part of a quick response team to address issues along India’s vast borders or within.

Another important element of the C-390 Millennium is that it requires fewer on-demand inspections and maintenance, combined with proven highly reliable systems and components, which reduces the time on the ground and overall operating costs, contributing to excellent dispatch rates (reliability, maintainability, and availability) and low lifecycle costs.

We are excited to see the C-390 Millennium programme grow from strength to strength, and we thank our customers for harnessing the best of the aircraft’s reliability and performance across many challenging scenarios. We cannot wait for it to fly across India’s skies.

The bond between India and Brazil is strong and at Embraer, we see great opportunities for further collaboration in the country. India is a key market for us and we are keen to extend Embraer’s presence and establish local win-win partnerships in the country that can further boost India’s defence industries and capabilities.