Channel NewsAsia

Brazil's Embraer moving into defense with cargo plane

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer launched a new hangar that will be used for the final assembly of its KC-390 military cargo plane, a major step in its expansion into the defence sector.

SAO PAULO: Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer launched a new hangar on Tuesday that will be used for the final assembly of its KC-390 military cargo plane, a major step in its expansion into the defence sector.

"No one can have any doubt that the defence industry is strategic," said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the launch ceremony. "Many will also agree that it has extraordinary potential for technological development."

Embraer, the world's number three commercial plane-maker, has been working to expand its defence arm in recent years.

The company announced Tuesday it had signed a 7.2 billion real (US$3.3 billion, 2.4 billion euro) contract with the Brazilian air force to sell it 28 KC-390s in the next 10 years to replace its aging fleet of US-built Hercules planes.

The first is due for delivery in late 2016.

"With these 28 planes we are sending a signal so that (other countries) can confidently purchase a Brazilian product," said Defence Minister Celso Amorim.

"This not only means a major boost for our national defence industry but also fulfils a need for our armed forces."

Embraer is currently finishing work on a prototype of the new medium-sized plane, which is due to make its first test flight at the end of the year.

The KC-390 has a cargo capacity of 21 tonnes and a maximum cruise speed of 860 kilometres (530 miles) per hour.

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna