Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro recently chose his regular live YouTube broadcast to announce that the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is to receive two Airbus tanker aircraft.
Despite a misidentification of the aircraft by the President, MON understands they will, in fact, be A330MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker/Transport) aircraft, which the FAB has previously evaluated. They will fill an urgent need felt by the service since the retirement of the four KC-137Es in 2013. The original programme for their replacement – dubbed KC-X2 – was launched in 2012, with the A330MRTT, Boeing KC-767A and an IAI proposal for conversion of commercial aircraft all taken into consideration. The following year, the FAB selected the IAI proposal, with one aircraft to be converted in Israel and two by TAP ME in Brazil, with Akaer and Friuli both involved in the engineering design and execution.
The contract did not mature, however, and the programme was halted in 2016. The FAB leased a 767-300ER from Global Flying Group for a three-year period from mid-2016, with the aircraft returned to the owner on expiration of the lease. A new tender for another lease period was cancelled in August 2020. The exact current state of negotiations for purchase of the A330MRTTs announced by President Bolsonaro is unclear.
Santiago Rivas and Florencia Lucero Heguy in Buenos Aires for MON