Military Aviation

First Portuguese Air Force KC-390 Millennium cargo aircraft enters service

First Portuguese Air Force KC-390 Millennium.

Taken on Oct. 19, 2023 the interesting photos in this post feature the first Força Aérea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force) KC-390 Millennium arriving at Base Aérea (BA) 11 Beja.

According to Scramble Magazine, the aircraft had departed Brazil one day earlier and the new transporter made a nightstop at Amilcar Cabral, Sal Island (Cape Verde).

First of five KC-390 Millennium aircraft acquired by the Portuguese Air Force in 2019

The transatlantic flight, between Brazil and Portugal, marked the beginning of operational activities of the KC-390, which from now on, will integrate the Air Force fleet.

The aircraft, serial 26901 (c/n 390000011), will be operated by Esquadra 506 ‘Rinocerontes (Rhinos)’.

This is the first of five aircraft acquired by the Portuguese Air Force in 2019.

Meeting the requirements of the Portuguese Air Force

The KC-390 is designed to set new standards for efficiency and productivity in its category while presenting the lowest life-cycle cost of the market. The aircraft can perform different types of military and civilian missions including humanitarian support, medical evacuation, search and rescue and firefighting, while fully meeting the requirements of the Portuguese Air Force, adding new superior cargo and troops transport, aerial delivery and aerial refueling capabilities.

Portugal is the largest international partner of the KC-390 Program and its participation in the development and production of the aircraft is recognized as having had a positive economic impact in the generation of jobs, new investments, increased exports and technological advances.

The KC-390

The KC-390 is a twin-engine jet-powered military transport aircraft, like the turboprop-engined A400M of Airbus, with which it intends to compete in the international market, although within a segment of smaller size. It has a maximum capacity to carry up to 26 tons, including armoured vehicles, and is similar in size to the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, which has a load capacity of around 20 tons.

The KC-390’s piloting is facilitated by an integrated avionic system and a fly-by-wire flight control, and it can be equipped with a self-defense system and ballistic protection which increases its capacity to operate in hostile environments.

The KC-390 has a length of 35.3 meters, a height of 11.84 meters and a wingspan of 35 meters, with a maximum range of 4,600 nautical miles. The program currently has more than 30 orders, 28 of them are aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force. The Portuguese Air Force has ordered 5 units. The Austrian Air Force has selected the Millennium to replace its C-130K Hercules cargo aircraft.

Photo credit: Força Aérea Portuguesa

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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