Portuguese Government Nears Decision on Acquiring Embraer Super Tucano Aircraft

Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano with registration PT-ZTU, arrives at Beja for the airshow on May 30, 2024. (All images, credit: Author)

Portuguese Minister of Defense reaffirms the intention to acquire the Super Tucano from Embraer.

The Portuguese Minister of National Defense announced last week that the Government is “finalizing the implementation of an aircraft akin to the KC-390 Millennium, which has shown excellent results, from the Embraer base with incorporated Portuguese technology,” referring to the EMB 314 Super Tucano aircraft. Dr. Nuno Melo mentioned that, should this investment proceed, “there are already intentions to purchase from NATO and non-NATO countries,” emphasizing that the aircraft is ideal for operations in Africa where Portugal has several missions.

The current legislative framework, via the Military Programming Law (LPM), has allocated a budget of 180.5 million Euro for the acquisition of unspecified close air support (CAS) aircraft.

The EMB314 is a turbo-propeller aircraft designed for light attack and advanced instruction, particularly suited for drug-fighting and counter-insurgency operations. It is equipped with sophisticated equipment that allows the simulation of air and land threats.

Low pass in front of the public during Beja Airshow 2024.

The A-29N version of the Super Tucano is specially configured to meet NATO countries’ demands, making it particularly suitable for the Portuguese Air Force (FAP). In addition to its combat capabilities, the A-29N is also used as an advanced training aircraft, providing a versatile platform for training fighter pilots in CAS (Close Air Support), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), and advanced pilot training.

With the operational end of the Alpha Jet and the deactivation of Squadron 103 “Caracois” in 2018, advanced pilot instruction has been conducted in the United States, creating a business opportunity to address this situation.

The acquisition of these aircraft will not only enhance Portugal’s defense capabilities but also support its peacekeeping missions, particularly in Africa, where the country is actively involved.

It is noteworthy that during the Beja Air Show on June 1 and 2, 2024, a Super Tucano was present in the static exhibition and performed a demonstration for the public.

Super Tucano returns to static exhibition after delighting the public with its display.

Considering the latest developments in strengthening relations between Embraer and Portugal through the acquisition of five KC-390 Millennium aircraft, the fact that OGMA is an Embraer unit capable of maintaining the Super Tucano, and the statements of the Minister of Defense in the Defense Commission, it is expected that an official announcement will be made soon, as this expenditure has already been budgeted by the previous government.

About Jorge Ruivo
Jorge Ruivo is a freelance journalist based in Marinha Grande, Portugal. Since 2000, he has contributed with photography works and articles on the topic of Military Aviation published by the Portuguese press. More recently he has started working with various international media outlets publishing articles and photographs in several magazines, including Combat Aircraft and Airforces Monthly. His main areas of interest are the Portuguese Air Force, its flight squadrons, foreign deployments and military exercises.