Analysis: Super Tucano for Croatia? Maybe, but not soon

Embraer Super Tucano Croazia
Embraer Super Tucano conducts a demo flight over Croatia.

At the end of October 2020, an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft conducted a three-day visit to Zemunik air base, home of the 93rd Wing and Flight Training Center of the Croatian Air Force.

The Brazilian aerospace company sent its aircraft to Croatia as part of the European promotional campaign.

Embraer showed the Super Tucano to the Croatian officers through demonstration flights in favor of Lt. Col. Damir Barišić, chief of staff and deputy commander of the 93rd Wing, and to the commanders of the 392nd squadron and the national aerobatic team Krila Oluje/Wings of Storm.

The leader of the Wings of Storm, Captain Darko Belančić, a flight instructor, was the first to have the opportunity to fly the Super Tucano.

"The flight was very enjoyable. The Tucano is very similar to the aircraft we fly, so we had no difficulties operating it. Flying was also facilitated by the advanced avionics and systems. The Brazilian pilots are top professionals and we enjoyed trying something new," he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Barišić also appreciated the PC-9-like performance as well as superior capabilities.

”The opportunity to fly this aircraft is really a valuable and handy experience. The configuration and flight performances being very similar to our Pilatus PC-9M aircraft, which is used for instruction, the the A-29 Super Tucano is much more complex and has superior capabilities, and is a combat-proven light attack aircraft. It is successfully employed in combat missions, as an excellent platform delivering a broad range of combat capabilities and weapons, and preparing the pilots for conversion to modern fighter aircraft thanks to its sophisticated systems and equipment”, said Lt. Col. Barišić.

The company aims to introduce the Super Tucano to the Croatian Air Force as a replacement for the Pilatus PC-9M.

The PC-9M currently represents the backbone of the nation's training fleet with approximately 20 aircraft in service. They were ordered in 1997 (3 are former RAAF PC-9A aircraft converted to PC-9M standard soon after delivery) and entered service in 1998. The type also equips the Wings of Storm aerobatic team.

As a cost-saving measure, the Croatian government announced in its draft strategic defense review that it intends to scale the PC-9 fleet to an "adequate level" for the current Air Force fleet, which has already undergone a drastic reduction from the mid-90s. This plan will likely lead to the withdrawal of the three oldest former RAAF units.

The nation is suffering from major budget problems, for about 20 years it has been trying to replace the old fleet of MiG-21 fighter aircraft without however finding adequate funds to carry out this plan. We believe it is very unlikely that Zagreb will consider buying the Super Tucano in the short term.

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Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Photo Credit: Hrvatski vojnik

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