Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano (A-29) History

The EMB 314 "Super Tucano" (also "A-29") represents a locally-produced Brazilian aircraft product falling under the then-government run EMBRAER banner. The aircraft is a turboprop-powered light attack, reconnaissance and surveillance platform that comes in two distinct flavors - a single-seat and twin-seat model. Though both can be armed to suit the operators needs, the twin-seat Super Tucano can also serve as an advanced trainer. The Tucano pedigree has proven itself to be one of the best in the world and the Super Tucano looks to continue this level of excellence in a more modernized and capable fashion.

The EMB-314 came about as EMBRAER was looking into a more powerful and armed version of its existing EMB-312 Tucano trainers in the late 1980s to be used in anti-smuggling and counter-insurgency roles. By 1994, Embraer was no longer a government-sponsored entity and was now forced to compete for its lively hood. The new feasibility study spawned two EMB-312H "Super Tucano" prototypes and was subsequently pitted against the Raytheon-modified Pilatus PC-9 (Texan 2) in the joint United States Air Force / United States Navy JPATS (Joint Primary Aircraft Training System) program competition. Though Raytheon ultimately won out over the EMBRAER submission, the Super Tucano idea as a whole was not dead and its evaluation by the American military proved the system promising enough.

Super Tucano can make use of a munitions capacity on its five hardpoints (four wing and one centerline). Standard armament options include a 20mm cannon pod mounted under the fuselage and 2 x 12.7mm FN Herstal M3P heavy machine guns in the wings (200 rounds to a gun). Optional and mission-specific ordnance can include 4 x 70mm rocket launcher pods for explosive air-to-surface strikes, conventional bombs and guided smart bombs. One of the primary roles the Super Tucano is called to tackle is that of intercepting low-flying/low-speed aircraft (fixed-wing or rotary-wing) illegally flying into Brazilian airspace. As such, the Super Tucano can be fitted with 2 x Sidewinder, MAA-1 Piranha or Python 3/4 short-ranged air-to-air missiles to meet the target with lethal results.

As of this writing, Brazil fields about 70 Super Tucanos with its Air Force made up of four squadrons and currently represents the largest user of the system. The Columbian Air Force (the first Super Tucano export customer) maintains 25 such examples while Ecuador has ordered no less than 24. Chile has 12 such systems on order and the Dominican Republic will be receiving 8. The United States Navy has procured a single example under a lease agreement for testing purposes in possible use by special forces elements - which in itself would be an interesting addition to such actions. Additionally, the American-based private contractor, Blackwater Worldwide (now EPAviation), purchased a single 2-seat trainer sans its wing machine guns.

EMBRAER lost a 24-example sale to Venezuela in 2006.

In an effort to increase its foothold in the Brazilian market and submit a possible contender for the USAF's Light Air Support program, the Boeing Company of America is working with Embraer to implement support for American weapons on the A-29 Super Tucano. This is in addition to Boeing's newly pledged support to assist Embraer in the development of its heaviest aircraft to date - the C-390 medium-lift transport. Of course, Boeing also envisions successfully selling its F/A-18 Hornet fighter product line to the Brazilian Air Force who is actively seeking a winner to its F-2X fighter competition (the French Dassault Rafale is another front-runner). The support of American weaponry on the Super Tucano will broaden its global appeal substantially.

Some twenty Super Tucanos have been committed to the rebuilding Afghan National Air Force with the first example set to be delivered during the early part of 2015. The remainder is scheduled to arrived prior to 2019.

Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano (A-29) Specification


Active, In-Service


[ 205 Units ]:
Embraer - Brazil / Sierra Nevada Corporation - USA


- Close-Air Support (CAS)

- Training



37.17 ft (11.33 m)


36.55 ft (11.14 m)


13.02 ft (3.97 m)


Empty Weight:

6,658 lb (3,020 kg)


11,464 lb (5,200 kg)

(Diff: +4,806lb)


1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C turboprop engine developing 1,600 horsepower and driving a five-bladed propeller unit at the nose.


Maximum Speed:

367 mph (590 kph; 319 kts)

Service Ceiling:

35,007 feet (10,670 m; 6.63 miles)

Maximum Range:

1,774 miles (2,855 km; 1,542 nm)


3,242 ft/min (988 m/min)



1 x 20mm cannon in under-fuselage pod.

2 x 12.7mm FN Herstal M3P Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs).


2 x AIM-9 "Sidewinder" short-range air-to-air missiles.

2 x MAA-1 "Piranha" air-to-air missiles.

2 x "Python" Mark 3/ Mark 4 air-to-air missiles.


4 x 70mm rocket launcher pods.

Conventional Drop Bombs.

Precision-Guided / Laser-Guided Bombs.

Also gun pods, cannon pods, and jettisonable fuel tanks.


EMB-314 - Base Model Designation.

A-29A - Single-Seat; light strike and armed reconnaissance.

A-29B - Two-Seat Model; light strike, surveillance and reconnaissance roles.

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