No one is saying that Embraer’s new KC-390 jet-powered multi-use aircraft is purpose-built to serve as an air tanker, but the company’s website has a picture, an artist’s conception, of it dropping on a wildfire before it even takes its first flight. In the image, it appears to have a retardant system similar to the first generation Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) with the pressurized nozzles protruding out of the open rear loading ramp.
The aircraft was just rolled out for the first time October 21 at the company’s plant in Brazil and will not take its first flight for a few months, so it’s a little early to say it will join the fleet of next-generation air tankers. Embraer has said they have firm orders from the Brazilian Air Force for 28 of the aircraft, which will fit into the medium transport category dominated by Lockeed’s C-130 series.
The list of roles it could fill is long, including cargo and troop transport (80 troops or 64 paratroopers), medical evacuation, search and rescue, air to air refueling, and, the company says, firefighting air tanker.
According to Wikipedia, it will sell for $50 million and can carry a 52,029-pound payload. Business Insider reported it will have a cruising speed of 860 kilometers (550 miles) per hour. Wikipedia say the C-130J can carry a 44,000-pound payload and has a cruising speed of 348 knots (400 mph, 643 km/h).