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.
|1 June 2000
|Army aviation force (GALE) formally established.
|1 July 2006
|GALE renemed UALE.
|NH90 helicopter order cancelled.
|Army aviation unit formally disbanded.
The unit was disbanded in 2015.
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.
Coding system not used
None – Manufacturers designations used
Current Aircraft Inventory
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
Avendia Leite Vasconcelos 27, Alfagide, P-2700 Amodora.
Two helicopter squadrons were planned to be initially formed.
Current Order of Battle
Historical Orders of Battle
The planned army aviation organisation was as follows:
|Unidade de Aviação Ligeira do Exército
|Equadrilha de Reconhecimento
|Equadrilha de Transporte
All-Time Flying Units List
Current Air Bases
All-Time Air Bases Used List
All helicopters were to be operated from Tancos.
To be added
To be added.