Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano
The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29 is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency (COIN), close air support, aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. Designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, and incorporates fourth-generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision-guided munitions.
During the mid-1980s Embraer was working on the Short Tucano alongside a new version designed EMB-312G1, carrying the same Garrett engine. The EMB-312G1 prototype flew for the first time in July 1986. However, the project was dropped because the Brazilian Air Force was not interested in it. Nonetheless, the lessons from recent combat use of the aircraft in Peru and Venezuela led Embraer to keep up the studies. Besides a trainer, it researched a helicopter attack version designated “Helicopter killer” or EMB-312H. The study was stimulated by the unsuccessful bid for the US military Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) program. A proof-of-concept prototype flew for the first time in September 1991. The aircraft features a 1.37-meter (4.49-ft) fuselage extension with the addition of sections before and after of the cockpit to restore its center of gravity and stability, a strengthened airframe, cockpit pressurization and stretched nose to house the more powerful PT6A-67R (1,424 shp) engine. Two new prototypes with the PT6A-68A (1,250 shp) engine were built in 1993. The second prototype flew for the first time in May 1993 and the third prototype flew in October 1993.
This EMB-312H Prototype first flew on 9 September 1991, and currently is on display at the Memorial Aeroespacial Brasileiro in São José dos Campos.
The request for a light attack aircraft was part of the Brazilian government’s SIVAM (Amazon Surveillance System) Project. This aircraft would fly with the R-99A and R-99B aircraft then in service and be used to intercept illegal aircraft flights and patrol Brazil’s borders. The ALX Project was then created by the Brazilian Air Force, which was also in need of a military trainer to replace the Embraer EMB 326GB Xavante. The new aircraft was to be suited to the Amazon region (high temperature, moisture, and precipitation; low threat). The ALX was then specified as a turboprop engine aircraft with a long range and autonomy, able to operate in night and day, in any meteorological conditions, and able to land on short airfields lacking infrastructure.
In August 1995, the Brazilian Ministry of Aeronautics awarded Embraer a $50 million contract for ALX development. Two EMB-312H were updated to serve as ALX prototypes. These made their initial flights in their new configuration in 1996 and 1997, respectively. The initial flight of a production-configured ALX, further modified from one of the prototypes, occurred on 2 June 1999. The second prototype brought up to two-seater configuration and performing its first flight on 22 October 1999. The changes had been so considerable that the type was given a new designation, the “EMB-314 Super Tucano”. The total cost of the aircraft development was quoted to be between US$200 million and US$300 million.
The aircraft differs from the baseline EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft in several respects. It is powered by a more powerful 1,200 kW (1,600 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C engine (compared to the EMB-312’s 560 kW (750 shp) powerplant); has a strengthened airframe to sustain higher g loads and increase fatigue life to 18,000–12,000 hours in operational environments; a reinforced landing gear to handle greater takeoff weights and heavier stores load, up to 1,550 kilograms (3,300 pounds); Kevlar armour protection; two internal wing-mounted .50 calibre machine guns (with 200 rounds of ammunition each); capacity to carry various ordnance on five weapon hardpoints including Giat NC621 20 mm cannon pods, Mk 81/82 bombs, MAA-1 Piranha air-to-air missiles (AAMs), BLG-252 cluster bombs and SBAT-70/19 or LAU-68A/G rocket pods on its underwing stations; and has a night-vision goggle (NVG)-compatible “glass cockpit” with hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls; provision for a datalink; a video camera and recorder; an embedded mission-planning capability; forward-looking infrared (FLIR); chaff/flare dispensers; missile approach warning receiver systems (MAWS) and radar warning receivers (RWRs); zero-zero ejection seats. The structure is corrosion-protected and the side-hinged canopy has a windshield able to withstand bird strike impacts up to 500 km/h (270 kn).