L3Harris, Embraer team up to offer new tanker aircraft to US Air Force
L3Harris Technologies and Embraer S.A. today announced a partnership to develop an “Agile Tanker,” a tactical aerial refueling option to address the U.S. Air Force’s operational imperatives and joint force refueling requirements especially for contested logistics environments.
The companies signed an agreement to expand the capabilities of Embraer’s KC-390 Millennium tactical tanker aircraft. Enhancements include the addition of advanced boom operations and mission systems to support agile basing and sustainment for operations in contested areas, and resilient communications supporting JADC2 requirements.
Concept design of the new “Agile Tanker” that L3Harris and Embraer will jointly develop to respond to USAF’s operational imperatives.
“U.S. Air Force strategic planners have stated agile combat employment will require refueling platforms optimized to support a disaggregated approach to air dominance in contested logistics environments,” said Christopher E. Kubasik, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, L3Harris. “Collaborating with Embraer to develop and integrate new capabilities to the multi-mission KC-390 provides a cost-effective, fast-to-field solution that embodies our trusted disruptor approach.”
Aircraft enhancements will complement the tanker’s existing capabilities, which already include the ability to refuel aircraft with a variable speed drogue, receive fuel, and to take off and land from short and improvised runways, allowing for greater mission area coverage.
“We continue seeking meaningful and strategic partnerships that generate new developments and expand the KC-390 Millennium’s market reach,” said Francisco Gomes Neto, President and CEO of Embraer. “Our aircraft is capturing the attention of Air Forces around the world, and we’re thrilled by this opportunity to combine Embraer’s state-of-the-art platform and systems with L3Harris’ mission-driven solutions to deliver on the U.S. Air Force’s operational imperatives.”
To support the Buy American Act requirements, the parties are studying the Agile Tanker program production with final assembly in the U.S., followed by aircraft modernization and missionization at the L3Harris’ Waco, Texas, aircraft modification center.