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L3Harris Partners with Embraer on Aerial Refuel Tanker for USAF; CEO Christopher Kubasik Quoted

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Defense contracting company L3Harris Technologies is working on a new aerial fueling technology in collaboration with aerospace component manufacturer Embraer.

The “Agile Tanker” tool will build on a prior Embraer-made tactical tanker aircraft and is designed to enable the operational imperative objectives of the U.S. Air Force, the Melbourne, Florida-headquartered company said Monday.

“U.S. Air Force strategic planners have stated agile combat employment will require refueling platforms optimized to support a disaggregated approach to air dominance in contested logistics environments,” explained Christopher Kubasik, CEO and chairman of L3Harris.

Kubasik, who is a multiple-time recipient of the Wash100 Award, also said that partnering with Embraer will produce a financially viable product with a fast turnaround.

Together, L3Harris and Embraer plan to optimize and evolve the latter company’s KC-390 Millennium tanker model with new boom operations and mission systems that can assist with agile basing and preservation in difficult-to-navigate environments. The new tanker will additionally be built to connect with Joint All Domain Command and Control apparatuses, which are a focus in the aforementioned Air and Space Forces’ operational imperatives.

The KC-390 Millennium is crafted to function in a range of mission types. The latest edition will harness the L3Harris team’s status as an aircraft missionization prime alongside Embraer’s jet-powered hardware to attempt to best serve the needs of the Department of Defense and the USAF.

The aerial vessel is already, pre-update, able to intake fuel, refuel aircrafts with a variable speed drogue, as well as take off and descend onto small and unconventional runways, so that its application can be as widespread and versatile as possible.

Production of the new model will be finalized in the U.S., with post-production modernization and missionization conducted at the L3Harris aircraft modification facility in Waco, Texas.