Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, is set to present its C-390 Millennium military transport aircraft to the South African Air Force (SAAF) in a demonstration scheduled for November 24 (Friday) at Air Force Base Waterkloof near Pretoria.
“The purpose of the demonstration is to showcase the aircraft’s capability for air-to-air refueling, humanitarian aid capability/flying equipment, search and rescue and aerial fire-fighting capability,” the SAAF said in a document being circulated on social media.
The event will be attended by key figures, including South African Minister of Defence Thandi Modise and Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Rudzani Maphwanya. This demonstration follows discussions initiated in April 2023 when SAAF representatives visited Embraer in Brazil.
The demonstration aims to showcase the aircraft's capabilities, including air-to-air refueling, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, and humanitarian aid transportation.
Despite the historical collaboration between Brazil and South Africa in weapons development, such as the A-Darter missile for the F-39 Gripen, and the ongoing challenges faced by the SAAF, which struggles due to a lack of resources, it remains uncertain whether South Africa can afford new aircraft. With the current crisis leaving the SAAF fleet mostly inactive, the country's commitment to refurbish its aging C-130B Hercules with a budget of 1 billion rand ($54.4 million) is insufficient for long-term needs, necessitating consideration of alternatives.