Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano

The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano (About this sound pronunciation), also named ALX or A-29 is a turboprop aircraft designed for light attack, counter insurgency (COIN), close air support, aerial reconnaissance missions in low threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. Designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, incorporates 4th generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision guided munitions. It is currently in service with the air forces of Brazil, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Angola, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and the United States Air Force, and has been ordered by Senegal, Honduras, Lebanon, Mali and Ghana.

Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano
Class Aircraft
Type Attack
Manufacturer Embraer
Origin Brazil
Country Name Origin Year
Brazil 1999
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Afghanistan View
Angola View
Brazil 2003 View
Chile View
Colombia View
Dominican Republic View
Ecuador View
Ghana View
Honduras View
Indonesia View
Lebanon View
Mauritania View
Senegal View
United States of America View
Burkina Faso View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Embraer 2003 259 View

During the mid-1980s Embraer was working on the Short Tucano alongside a new version designed EMB-312G1, carrying the same Garrett engine. The EMB-312G1 prototype flew for the first time in July 1986. However, the project was dropped because the Brazilian Air Force was not interested in it. Nonetheless, the lessons from recent combat use of the aircraft in Peru and Venezuela led Embraer to keep up the studies. Besides a trainer, it researched a helicopter attack version designed "Helicopter killer" or EMB-312H. The study was stimulated by the unsuccessful bid for the US military Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) program. A proof-of-concept prototype, the PT-ZTW flew for the first time in September 1991, the aircraft features a 1.37-meter (4.49-ft) fuselage extension with the addition of sections before and after of the cockpit to restore its center of gravity and stability, a strengthened airframe, cockpit pressurization and stretched nose to house the more powerful PT6A-67R (1,424 Shp) engine. Two new prototypes with the PT6A-68A (1,250 Shp) engine were built in 1993. The second prototype flew for the first time in May 1993 and the third prototype flew in October 1993.

The request for a light attack aircraft was part of the Brazilian government's SIVAM (Amazon Surveillance System) Project. This aircraft would fly with the R-99A and R-99B aircraft then in service and be used to intercept illegal aircraft flights and patrol Brazil's borders. The ALX Project was then created by the Brazilian Air Force, which was also in need of a military trainer to replace the Embraer EMB 326GB Xavante. The new aircraft was to be suited to the Amazon region (high temperature, moisture, and precipitation; low threat). The ALX was then specified as a turboprop engine aircraft with a long range and autonomy, able to operate in night and day, in any meteorological conditions, and able to land on short airfields lacking infrastructure.

In August 1995, the Brazilian Ministry of Aeronautics awarded Embraer a $50 million contract for ALX development. Two EMB-312H were updated to serve as ALX prototypes. These made their initial flights in their new configuration in 1996 and 1997, respectively. The initial flight of a production-configured ALX, further modified from one of the prototypes, occurred in 2 June 1999. The second prototype brought up to two-seater configuration and performing its first flight on 22 October 1999. The changes had been so considerable that the type was given a new designation, the "EMB-314 Super Tucano". The total cost of the aircraft development was quoted to be between US$200 million and US$300 million.

The aircraft differs from the baseline EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft in several respects. It is powered by a more powerful 1,200 kW (1,600 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C engine (compared to the EMB-312's 560 kW (750 shp) powerplant); has a strengthened airframe to sustain higher g loads and increase fatigue life to 18,000–12,000 hours in operational environments; a reinforced landing gear to handle greater takeoff weights and heavier stores load, up to 1,550 kilograms (3,300 pounds); Kevlar armour protection; two internal wing-mounted .50 calibre machine guns (with 200 rounds of ammunition each); capacity to carry various ordnance on five weapon hardpoints including Giat NC621 20 mm cannon pods, Mk 81/82 bombs, MAA-1 Piranha air-to-air missiles (AAMs), BLG-252 cluster bombs and SBAT-70/19 or LAU-68A/G rocket pods on its underwing stations; and has a night-vision goggle (NVG)-compatible "glass cockpit" with hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls; provision for a datalink; a video camera and recorder; an embedded mission-planning capability; forward-looking infrared (FLIR); chaff/flare dispensers; missile approach warning receiver systems (MAWS) and radar warning receivers (RWRs); zero-zero ejection seats. The structure is corrosion-protected and the side-hinged canopy has a windshield able to withstand bird strike impacts up to 500 km/h (270 kn).

In 1996, Embraer selected the Israeli firm Elbit Systems to supply the mission avionics for the ALX. For this contract, Elbit was chosen over GEC-Marconi and Sextant Avionique. The Israeli company supplies such equipment as the mission computer, head-up displays, and navigation and stores management systems.

On 13 October 2010, the Super Tucano A-29B had passed the mark of 48,000 hours since 21 July 2005 on full scale wing-fuselage structural fatigue test, conducted by the Aeronautical Systems Division (ASA), part of the Aeronautics and Space Institute (IAE) at the Structural Testing Laboratory. The test involves a complex system of hydraulics and tabs that apply pressure to aircraft structure, simulating air pressure from flying at varying altitudes. The simulation continued for another year to complete the engine fatigue life test and crack propagation studies for a damage tolerance analysis program of conducted by Embraer and IAE/ASA.

Embraer developed an advanced training and support system suite called Training Operational Support System (TOSS) an integrated computational tool composed of four systems: Computer Based Training (CBT) enabling the student to rehearse the next sortie on a computer simulation; Aviation Mission Planning Station (AMPS) which uses the 3D visuals to practice planned missions and to check inter-visibility between aircraft and from aircraft and other entities; Mission Debriefing Station (MDS) employs real aircraft data to playback missions for review and analysis; Flight Simulator (FS). MPS and MDS was enhanced with MAK’s 3D visualization solution to support airforces pre-existing data, including GIS, Web-based servers and a plug-in for custom terrain formats.

In 2012, Boeing Defense, Space & Security was selected to integrate Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) for the Super Tucano. In 2013, Embraer Defense and Security CEO disclosed that its subsidiary, OrbiSat, was developing a new radar for the Super Tucano. A Colombian General disclosed that the future Side looking airborne radar (SLAR) will be able to locate ground targets smaller than a car with digital precision.

In August 2001, the Brazilian Air Force awarded Embraer a contract for 76 Super Tucano / ALX aircraft with options for a further 23. A total of 99 aircraft were acquired from a contract estimated to be worth around $214.1 USD millions, 66 of these aircraft are two seater versions, designated A-29B. The remaining 33 aircraft are the single seat A-29 ALX version. The first aircraft was delivered in December 2003. By September 2007, 50 aircraft had entered service. The 99th, and last, aircraft was delivered in June 2012.

One of the main missions of the aircraft is border patrol under the SIVAM programme. On 3 June 2009, two Brazilian Air Force Super Tucanos, guided by an Embraer E-99, intercepted an Cessna U206G engaged in drug trafficking activities. Inbound from Bolivia, the Cessna was intercepted in the region of Alta Floresta d'Oeste and, after exhausting all procedures, one of the Super Tucanos fired a warning shot from its 12.7 mm machine guns, after which the aircraft followed the Super Tucanos to Cacoal airport. This incident was the first use of powers granted under the Shoot-Down Act, which was enacted in October 2004 in order to legislate for the downing of illegal flights. A total of 176 kg of pure cocaine base paste, enough to produce almost a ton of cocaine, was discovered on board the Cessna; the aircraft's two occupants attempted a ground escape before being arrested by Federal Police in Pimenta Bueno.

Role Attack aircraft and Counter insurgency
National origin Brazil
Manufacturer Embraer Defense and Security
First flight 2 June 1999
Introduction 2003
Status In production
Primary users Brazilian Air Force
Colombian Air Force
Ecuadorian Air Force
Chilean Air Force
Produced 2003–present
Number built 259
Unit cost $9–14 million
$430–500/hour (operational cost)
Developed from Embraer EMB 312 Tucano

General characteristics

  • Crew: Pilot plus one navigator/student in tandem on Martin Baker Mk 10 LCX zero-zero ejection seats
  • Payload: 1,500 kg (3,307 lb)
  • Length: 11.38 m (37 ft 4 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.14 m (36 ft 6.5 in)
  • Height: 3.97 m (13 ft 0.25 in)
  • Wing area: 19.4 m² (208.8 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 3,200 kg (7,055 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 5,400 kg (11,905 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 Hartzell 5-blade constant speed, fully feathering, reversible-pitch × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C turboprop, 1,196 kW (1,600 shp) each


  • Maximum speed: 590 km/h (319 knots, 367 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 520 km/h (281 knots, 323 mph)
  • Stall speed: 148 km/h (80 knots, 92 mph)
  • g-limit: +7/-3.5 g)
  • Range: 720 nmi (827 mi, 1,330 km)
  • Combat radius: 550 km (300 nmi, 342 mi) (hi-lo-hi profile, 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) of external stores)
  • Ferry range: 1,541 nmi (1,774 mi, 2,855 km)
  • Endurance: 8hrs 24mins
  • Service ceiling: 10,668 m (35,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 24 m/s (1600 fpm)


  • Gun:
  • Internal: 1 12.7 mm (0.50 in) 950 rounds per minute FN Herstal M3P machine gun in each wing.
  • pod: 1 20 mm (0.79 in) 650 rounds per minute GIAT M20A1 cannon below the fuselage.
  • pod: 1 12.7 mm (0.50 in) FN Herstal HMP for M3P machine gun under each wing
  • pod: up to 4 7.62 mm (0.30 in) 3,000 rounds per minute Dillon Aero M134 Minigun (under development) under wings.
  • Hardpoints: 5 (two under each wing and one under fuselage centreline) with a capacity of 1,550 kg (3,300 lb)
  • Rockets:
    (4x) pods 70 mm (2.75 in) LM-70/19(SBAT-70)
    (4x) pods 70 mm (2.75 in) LAU-68A/G
  • Missiles:
  • Air-to-air:
    AIM-9L Sidewinder
    MAA-1A Piranha
    MAA-1B Piranha (under development)
    Python 3
    Python 4
  • Air-to-ground:
    AGM-65 Maverick
    Delilah AL 
  • Bombs:
  • General-purpose bombs:
    (10x) Mk 81
    (5x) Mk 82
  • Incendiary bombs:
  • Cluster bombs:
    Precision-guided bombs:
    FPG-82 (under development) Friuli Aeroespacial INS/GPS guidance kit for Mk 82.
    SMKB-82 – INS/GPS guidance kit for Mk 82.
    GBU-54 (under development)
    GBU-38 (under development)
    GBU-39 (under development)
    Paveway II
    Lizard – Elbit laser guidance kit.
    Griffin – IAI laser guidance kit.
  • Others:
    Chaff & Flare (countermeasures)
    FLIR AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE II (Electro-Optical/Infrared Sensors)


  • MIL-STD-1553[179] standards.
  • NVG ANVIS-9 (Night Vision)
  • CCIP / CCRP / CCIL / DTOS / LCOS / SSLC (Computerized Attack Modes)
  • R&S{RT} M3AR VHF/UHF airborne transceiver (two-way encrypted Data Link provision)
  • HMD with UFCP(Up Front Control Panel)
  • Laser INS with GPS Navigational System.
  • CMFD(Colored Multi-Function Display) liquid crystal active matrix
  • Integrated Radio Communication and Navigation
  • Video Camera/Recorder
  • Automatic Pilot with embedded mission planning capability
  • Stormscope WX-1000E (Airborne weather mapping system)
  • Laser Range Finder
  • WiPak Support – (Wi-Fi integration for Paveway bombs).
  • Training and Operation Support System (TOSS).

End notes