The C-390 MILLENNIUM.. Unique, multi-mission airlift aircraft

Military airlift aircraft play a pivotal and strategically significant role in various military operations, which require large and complex and logistics capabilities. Thus, there is currently intense competition between defense companies from around the world to develop and produce airlift aircraft that meet all the strategic and tactical plans that the military forces require to successfully complete their missions in times of Peace and war.

The C-390 MILLENNIUM is developed by Embraer, the global aerospace company headquartered in Brazil, which celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

The most prominent of which is the C-390 MILLENNIUM military airlift aircraft. The C-390 MILLENNIUM is the new generation military multi-mission airlift aircraft that brings unrivaled mobility, high productivity, and operational flexibility at low operational costs on a single and unique modern platform.

This platform is capable of transporting and launching cargo and troops and performing a wide array of missions including medical evacuation, search and rescue, aerial refueling (fighters and helicopters), aerial firefighting, and humanitarian assistance.


The Brazilian aircraft offers unmatched versatility that enables operators to accomplish a broader range of missions.

Building over decades of development experience, the C-390 MILLENNIUM incorporates the most advanced and proven technology and design concepts.

Equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, the C-390 MILLENNIUM provides significantly reduced crew workload, efficiency, and precision for mission accomplishment.

The C-390 MILLENNIUM is the right military airlift for this century, delivering more capacity and unbeatable flexibility.

The 21st century airlift

Embraer and its business partners have developed a solid industrial structure to build and support the C-390 MILLENNIUM for many decades to come, providing the necessary confidence for its long-term life cycle.

The C-390 MILLENNIUM is the next generation of medium size tactical transport aircraft and delivers a multitude of features in a single configurable platform; from air-to-air refueling to aerial firefighting.

Reducing time on the ground and in the air improves mission success and helps save lives, therefore the C-390 MILLENNIUM can be reconfigured for all missions in 3 hours or less.

 The high – such as quick turnarounds, higher cruise speed and cargo capacity.

Flying faster and delivering more cargo, the C-390 MILLENNIUM is the right-sized platform for major deployment scenarios.


Minimized interventions and on-condition maintenance combined with highly reliable systems and components support reduce downtime and costs, contributing to outstanding availability levels and low life cycle costs.

Advanced cargo handling system

The advanced Cargo Handling System (CHS) provides high flexibility and productivity levels, merging a modern solution for software-controlled cargo locking with proven cargo handling mechanical solutions.

The CHS is designed to be easily and quickly reconfigured for different missions without the need for special tools. The cargo floor can be changed from a flat to a roller configuration with the flip-over capability.

Robustness & flexibility

The cargo floor is an integral part of the C-390 main structure, therefore it is designed with the strength to transport heavy-tracked and wheeled vehicles of up to 26,000 kg (57,320 lb).

An optimized tie-down grid  rings of 11,330 kg (25,000 lb)  of restraint in any direction ensures quick configuration changes and great cargo load flexibility.

The CHS features all the necessary accessories to facilitate the process of cargo loading, restraining as well as offloading, such as roller trays, and cargo guidance and restraint systems.

The CHS is fully compatible with the existing military airlift equipment, such as type V platforms, 463L pallets, A-22 CDS bundles, and ground support loaders.

Aerial refueling high & low speed

The C-390 is capable of refueling both fixed and rotary wing aircraft, operating at speeds from 120 KCAS to 300 KCAS and altitudes from 2,000 ft to 32,000 ft, in addition, the C-390 MILLENNIUM on-ground refueling capability can be used to refuel vehicles or forward operating bases.

Airdrop effectiveness & precision

The C-390 MILLENNIUM aerial delivery system provides automatic release of cargo in flight at low and high altitudes. 

The C-390 MILLENNIUM is capable of airdropping using different methods: LVAD (Low-Velocity Aerial Delivery) type-V platforms (single and multiple) up to 41,887 lb; Aerial delivery of CDS (Container Delivery System) up to 24 skid boards and bundles.

Search & Rescue response

During Search & Rescue missions, every minute counts in saving lives, therefore The C-390 MILLENNIUM turbofan engines provide unmatched speed compared with other aircraft it can be equipped with a complete set of equipment to support Search & Rescue missions including a Removable Electro-Optical/Infrared pod (EO/IR); four spotter positions; lateral litters and/or crew seats; removable internal fuel tanks to expand range and time on station.

Self-protection suite

The C-390 MILLENNIUM can be equipped with a complete Self-Protection System (SPS) to increase survivability levels including, detection & countermeasures with 360° coverage: Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), Laser Warning System (LWS), Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS), Chaff & Flare, Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM), Ballistic Protection (Armor 7.62 mm and 0.50 inch); which ensure the survivability of the aircraft in hostile scenarios.


The basic characteristics of the C-390 MILLENNIUM design increase the aircraft survivability level, as it boasts a high speed similar to a fast jet reaching Mach 0.8; high altitude reaching 36,000 ft; fuel tanks inertization, (OBIGGS), which produces nitrogen to reduce the likelihood of fires and explosions, night vision compatibility and tactical radar.

Onboard Maintenance System OMS

A fully integrated Onboard Maintenance System provides diagnostic information to the maintenance crews, facilitating troubleshooting activities, reducing downtime and cost, and achieving airline-level availability.


The C-390 MILLENNIUM boasts a modern and efficient air conditioning and pressurization System, with precise temperature and low cabin altitude controls which combined with the aircraft’s wider cross-section and a heated floor in the cargo compartment, provide enhanced comfort during Medevac and Troop Transport Missions.

Mission systems

Fully Night Vision compatible, the C-390 MILLENNIUM integrates several sensors to provide truly advanced multi-mission capabilities, such as a tactical radar with Systhetic-aperture (SAR) capability, EO/IR Pod, and dedicated Military Mission Computers that grant a robust but flexible engagement of the aircraft in different scenarios.

Dual certification approach from the beginning

The C-390 MILLENNIUM is undergoing a full military certification process built over a dual certification approach from the beginning. This dual process combines the efforts of both civil and military airworthiness authorities, ensuring the aircraft’s ability to safely accomplish all its military missions.

The C-390 MILLENNIUM basic platform is being developed and certified by the Brazilian Civil airworthiness authority per FAA 14 CFR Part 25 standards.

The military certification complements the civil certification with military standards, specifications, and criteria.


By: Ikram Ben dalla (researcher specializing in military affairs)

Al Jundi

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