The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano is an enhanced version, with faster speed and higher altitude, of the EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft

Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano review on Dung Tran Blog channel

Introduce

Strongly armored and carrying a powerful arsenal of air-to-surface armaments, ground-attack aircraft has revolutionized combat tactics to support ground forces since World War II. The best close air support aircrafts, dubbed the assassins to enemies on the ground, such as the Su-25 and A-10 Thunderbolt II.

In addition to the US and Russia military powers, Brazil is also a country capable of building close air support aircraft with the arrival of EMB-314 Super Tucano.

By the early 2000s, the EMB-314 was designed to be a training aircraft. After being armed with Kevlar armor, two 12.7mm machine guns and the ability to carry 20mm cannons as well as missiles and bombs, Super Tucano became a powerful weapon in the air.

Background

The end of the cold war gave rise to new threats, which were previously dormant and which could not always be satisfactorily dealt with through high-performance vectors. This was particularly true in regard to territories with extensive and relatively porous borders.

Embraer has launched the EMB-314, ideally suited to deal with current and future military fight training requirements and also deployable in scenarios that do not fit high-performance combat aircraft.

The Super Tucano, also known as ALX or A-29. It has the classic look of World War II-era fighters, but the EMB-314 Super Tucano is the most modern light attack aircraft  in the current turboprop family. The aircraft is powered by a turboprop engine, which has a low cruising speed, giving pilots time to identify and aim at the target, a very important element of the ground support mission.

The Super Tucano is an enhanced version, with faster speed and higher altitude, of the EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft which is operational in the Air Forces of 17 countries. The aircraft has two versions, one seat and two seats, but basically their design doesn’t make much difference.

Design

Inheriting the design of its predecessor, Super Tucano has a sleek and slender shape, a little longer than the EMB-312 Tucano. The cockpit is located quite far behind the engine nose, the canopy is designed with great views on all sides. The all-glass cockpit is fully compatible with night-vision goggles.

The Brazilian aircraft is equipped with avionics systems from Elbit Systems of Haifa, Israel, including a head-up display, advanced mission computer, navigation system, and two colour liquid crystal multi-function displays.

The pilot is provided with a hands-on throttle and stick control, he is protected with Kevlar armour and provided with a zero zero ejection seat. The structure is corrosion-protected and the side-hinged canopy has a windshield able to withstand bird strike impacts up to 500 km/h.

Super Tucano’s straight wings are mounted low on the fuselage just below the cockpit and offer up four external hardpoints, along with another under the fuselage forming a total of 5 hard points.

The tail is composed of a vertical fin and two horizontal planes are mounted low. Retractable landing wheels with a conventional configuration consist  of two single-wheeled main landing gears and a single-wheeled nose gear.

The overall dimensions of the aircraft include a length of 11.38m (37 ft 4 in), wingspan of 11.14m (36 ft 7 in) and height of 3.97m (13 ft 0 in). Its small size, small visual and radar signatures, together with high speed and agility, give the aircraft high-survivability.

Powerplant

Super Tucano is powered by a powerful 1,600 shaft horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C engine, drives a Hartzell five-bladed constant speed fully feathering reversible pitch propeller. EMB-314 can fly at the rate of 24m/s.

The maximum and cruise speed of the aircraft are 590 and 520km/h respectively. The range and service ceiling of the Super Tucano are 4,820km and 10,670m respectively. Its maximum endurance is six hours and 30 minutes. The aircraft weighs 3t and has a maximum take-off weight of 5.2t.

Armament

The aircraft is fitted with two central mission computers. The integrated weapon system includes software for weapon aiming, weapon management, mission planning and mission rehearsal. Onboard recording is used for post mission analysis.

The aircraft is capable of holding a maximum external load of 1,500kg. It is armed with two wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns with a rate of fire of 1,100 rounds a minute.

The armament options include unguided rockets, gun pods, air-to-air missiles, free fall bombs and smart munitions. Its design flexibility allows operations from unprepared runways, day or night.

Potential

Each Super Tucano costs between 9 and $18 million depending on the quantity and options included, along with that, the operating costs range from 430 to $500 an hour flying. This is an effective low-cost system, thus gaining much love from the export customers. In addition to its manufacture in Brazil, Embraer has set up a production line in the United States in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Corporation for many export customers.

Of course, compared to American and Russian legends, Super Tucano is not as powerful. The Kevlar shield cannot withstand anti-aircraft cannon, and the main gun’s firepower on EMB-314 is not enough to destroy the tank. However, this aircraft is very effective in anti-guerrilla missions in hot spots around the world. The Columbia government has used EMB-314 to sweep drug offenses. The US has also used about 200 of these aircraft against the Taliban rebels in Afghanistan. Low cost, low operating cost and moderate capacity make EMB-314 an appropriate choice for many countries that cannot afford to invest heavily in defense.

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