The Brazilian Air Force announced in a statement its intention to renegotiate the contract with Embraer to slow down the delivery rate of KC-390 transport aircraft and reduce the total number.

“The health crisis that the world has been facing since the end of 2019 has had repercussions on the global economic situation, with impacts also on the Brazilian fiscal and budgetary situation,” the statement read. “The objective will be to reduce the total number of aircraft delivered, based on the current contract, and to seek a production rate of 2 aircraft per year, more adequate considering the operational, logistical and financial aspects.”

The targeted number of KC-390 transporters was not detailed. If Embraer sticks to its contractual deadline of 2027, the number would be less than 20 aircraft, against 28 according to the initial plan.

The Brazilian Air Force received its first KC-390 on September 4, 2019. It has 4 next-generation transporters in its fleet and was due to receive another 3 by the end of 2021. 

The cut is a severe blow for the KC-390 program, whose main customer is the Brazilian Air Force. In addition to the 28 aircraft planned for Brazil, Embraer has a backlog of 5 aircraft for Portugal, a partner in the development of the aircraft, and 2 for Hungary. 

The KC-390 Millennium is a tactical transport and inflight refueling aircraft. Powered by two specially designed Pratt and Whitney V2500-E5 engines, it can carry 26 tons of cargo, including vehicles like two M113 armored personnel carriers, or a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The biggest aircraft produced in Latin America, it is designed to take off and land on semi-prepared and unpaved airfields.