By Anneliese Delgado
Jacksonville, Fl. — What started out as an empty hanger on the Northside less than two years ago is now the place where military airplanes are assembled.
The first completed A-29 Super Tucano was showcased near the Jacksonville International Airport Thursday morning.
More than 120 Embraer Defense and Security employees worked to assemble the aircraft. A spokesperson for Embraer said most of those employees are veterans.
“This is more about just building planes,” Mayor Alvin Brown said. “This is about economic development.”
The U.S. government signed a contract with the Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer to ensure 20 Super Tucano aircrafts will be made in the upcoming months, according to an Embraer spokesperson. The contract is worth $427 million.
The planes will be assembled at a facility near Airport Road then will be used to help the Afghan Air Force.
“This airplane will provide the kind of close air support that’s very critical in the kind of fighting that’s going on in Afghanistan,” said Congressman Ander Crenshaw.
The Afghan Air Force lacks aircrafts that are able to fire from the air to the ground, according to one military speaker.
WOKV was able to tour the facility where the Super Tucano planes are assembled. A spokesperson for Embraer said it takes about five months to assemble one plane. Eight planes are assembled at one time in the facility.
The basic skeleton of the planes are made in Brazil then shipped to Jacksonville.
Embraer hopes to continue making the Super Tucano models for other companies once the contract with the U.S. government is fulfilled.