Aerial Warfare

Portugal to Acquire Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Turboprop Light Attack Aircraft

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Portugal to Acquire Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Turboprop Light Attack Aircraft

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Portugal to Acquire Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Turboprop Light Attack Aircraft
Portugal to Acquire Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Turboprop Light Attack Aircraft

The Portuguese Minister of National Defence, João Nuno Lacerda Teixeira de Melo, has announced Portugal’s intention to procure the Embraer Defense & Security A-29 Super Tucano turboprop light attack aircraft. The announcement was made during a session of the National Defence Commission of the Portuguese Parliament on June 25. While specific delivery schedules and aircraft numbers were not disclosed, the acquisition aligns with Portugal’s strategic defense objectives. The Portuguese Air Force is seeking an aircraft capable of performing close air support (CAS) and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in environments with limited infrastructure. Additionally, the aircraft will be used for advanced pilot training.

In 2022, the Portuguese Air Force proposed the purchase of 12 second-hand A-29s from Brazilian Air Force reserves. In August 2022, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force expressed the service’s interest in acquiring propeller aircraft for combat missions. The acquisition of the A-29 fleet is part of the modernization plan “Air Force 5.3,” funded by approximately EUR 206 million (USD 220 million). This budget is part of the EUR 851.5 million allocated to the Ministry of National Defence and the Portuguese Armed Forces Staff under the Military Programming Law 2023–2034. Portugal is currently considering the purchase of between eight and 12 aircraft, according to Brigadier General João Rui Ramos Nogueira, Director of the Engineering and Programs Directorate at the Portuguese Air Force.

Embraer A-29 Super Tucano counter-insurgency aircraft
Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Turboprop Light Attack Aircraft. (Photo by Embraer)

The Embraer A-29 Super Tucano, also known as the ALX or EMB 314 , is a Brazilian-designed turboprop light attack aircraft designed and built by Embraer as a development of the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano. The A-29 Super Tucano is equipped with a variety of weapons, including precision-guided munitions, and is designed for low-cost operations. The aircraft is operational both day and night, with a low acoustic signature, FLIR, and other sensors providing a tactical edge to intelligence operators. Its extensive munitions and versatile capabilities have made the A-29 a preferred choice for combat training, counterinsurgency operations, drug interdiction, and border surveillance worldwide for more than a decade.

The A-29 Super Tucano is widely regarded as the gold standard for light attack, combat, and reconnaissance aircraft. It has been adopted by 16 air forces globally and is valued for its rugged and durable design, allowing it to perform operations from unimproved runways and austere environments. With attributes such as low maintenance requirements and affordability—operating at just $1,500 per flight hour—the Super Tucano has amassed over 500,000 flight hours, including 60,000 combat hours, making it a reliable asset for developing nations. In addition to its Brazilian production line, Embraer has a production facility in the United States in collaboration with Sierra Nevada Corporation to cater to export customers.

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