LONDON — BAE Systems, the largest defense contractor in Europe, is considering a move into the military air transport business via a strategic partnership with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer.

The companies opened the second day of the Farnborough air show in England July 19 by announcing they had signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue a potential deal with Saudi Arabia for the Embraer’s C-390 tactical airlift twin jet.

The aim is to establish a partnership to collaborate in the Middle East and other markets, they said in a statement.

Details of the potential scope of the strategic partnership were not available. Ian Muldowney, chief operating officer for BAE Systems Air sector said the collaboration “recognizes the capability of the C-390 Millennium aircraft combined with BAE Systems’ extensive knowledge and understanding of international markets including experience in standing up military capability and delivering industrialization through the support, maintenance, and training solutions for complex aircraft.”

BAE has had a major industrial and support presence in Saudi Arabia for decades on the back of massive deals in the air sector involving Typhoon, Tornado combat jets and Hawk trainers.

The C-390, known as the Millennium, is a multi-mission platform available in airlifter, air-to-air refueling and other variants.

Launched in 2009 on the back of a Brazilian military requirement the Lockheed Martin C-130J rival has been picking up international orders, most notably in the Netherlands where the government said it would buy five C-390′s to replace it’s aging C-130 H fleet.

Embraer previously had an agreement with Boeing to market the C-390 in markets like the Middle East but that arrangement fell apart in 2019 when a wider co-operation plan collapsed.

The C-390 MoU was one of two agreements signed by the British company and Embraer at the show. The two sides also confirmed their intention to create a joint venture to develop a defense variant of a electrically powered VTOL platform originally designed by the Embraer backed company Eve for the urban mobility market .

The companies revealed last December they were planning to work together in the eVTOL market.

“Teams from BAE Systems and Embraer will continue working together to explore how the aircraft, designed for the urban mobility market, can provide cost-effective, sustainable, and adaptable capability as a defense variant,” said Jackson Schneider, president and chief executive at Embraer Defense & Security.

Eve Holding announced at the show a non-binding Letter of Intent with Embraer and BAE to explore the potential order of up to 150 electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles with the aim of examining the aircrafts applications for the defense and security markets.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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