Portuguese Army Aviation

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Unidade de Aviação Ligeira do Exército
English Title:
Portuguese Army Aviation
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

The process to establish a helicopter equipped force for the Portuguese Army was launched in 1991 and the unit was officially formed on 1 June 2000. Initially called the Grupo de Aviacao Ligeira de Exercito (GALE – Army Light Aviation Group), it was later renamed Unidade de Aviação Ligeira do Exército (UALE – Army Light Aviation Unit). Army helicopters were to be used primarily for tactical transport, observation/liaison and close air support missions.

The order for nine EC635s to serve as initial equipment was cancelled after a contractual dispute. Delays in the development and production ramp-up of the NH90 medium transport helicopter meant the original in-service date of 2008 was not achieved, and with no likelihood of imminent deliveries, the Portuguese government took the oportunity to cancel the order in 2012. Army personnel who had trained as helicopter pilots were deployed elsewhere. In July 2015 the UALE was officially disbanded, as the Army moved to a new organisational struture.

Key Dates:
1 June 2000 Army aviation force (GALE) formally established.
1 July 2006 GALE renemed UALE.
June 2012 NH90 helicopter order cancelled.
July 2015 Army aviation unit formally disbanded.

Current Status

The unit was disbanded in 2015.

Future Plans

Not applicable.


National Insignia

Not applicable – no helicopters flew in Army markings. It was expected that the service title EXERCITO would be displayed on the fuselage sides.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Portuguese army helicopters would have used the same serialling system as the air force – a unique five-figure number for each airframe.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Not applicable.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

No aircraft or helicopters entered service.

Aircraft NOT Used

A number of contracts were placed for helicopters to be used by the UALE, but all were subsequently cancelled.
Reports of aircraft on order


Main Headquarters:
Avendia Leite Vasconcelos 27, Alfagide, P-2700 Amodora.

Organisational Structure

Two helicopter squadrons were planned to be initially formed.

Current Order of Battle

Not applicable.

Historical Orders of Battle

The planned army aviation organisation was as follows:

Squadron Type Base
Unidade de Aviação Ligeira do Exército
Equadrilha de Reconhecimento EC635 Tancos
Equadrilha de Transporte NH90TTH Tancos

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

Not applicable.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

All helicopters were to be operated from Tancos.

More Information


To be added


To be added.


Official Portuguese Army webpage

wikipedia: Portuguese Army Light Aviation Unit


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