Portuguese Army Aviation

Operator Profile

History

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.

Markings

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

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

Organisation

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

Books

To be added

Magazines

To be added.

Websites

Official Portuguese Army webpage

wikipedia: Portuguese Army Light Aviation Unit

 

Aircraft Not Used
Portuguese Army Aviation

This page gives details of some of the aircraft types that were offered or promised to the Portuguese Army Aviation but not delivered, cancelled official orders, and types have been falsely reported as being in service.

Eurocopter EC635T1
A contract was placed in 1999 for nine (9) Eurocopter EC135T1 helicopters to be upgraded to EC635T1 standard by OGMA, but due to a contractual dispute the order was cancelled in 2002. These helicopters were intended for the utility, anti-tank and reconnaisance roles.

NHI NH90 TTH
Ten (10) NH90 TTH medium transport helicopters were ordered in June 2001, but the order was cancelled in June 2012 due to budget cuts.

Portuguese Naval Aviation

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

After evaluation of the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, an order was placed with Westland for 5 Super Lynx helicopters in 1990, for operation from the new MEKO 200 class frigates then under construction. The Naval Air Arm was formally established in June 1992 for coastal SAR and shipboard support duties. The first two helicopters were handed over on 29 July 1993. The pilots and maintenance engineers were then trained on the type by the Royal Navy and Westland Helicopters. The EHM unit which operates the Super Lynx was officially formed in September 1993. It is self contained within BA 6 at Montijo and has no Air Force personnel.

Key Dates:
June 1992 Naval air arm formally established.
July 1993 First helicopters delivered.
September 1993 First naval helicopter squadron officially formed.

Current Status

Portuguese naval helicopters are used primarily for shipboard support and coastal Search & Rescue (SAR) missions.

Future Plans

An additional 3 Lynx helicopters are required, to bring the total to eight.

Markings

National Insignia

  
Main MarkingFin Flash
The main marking is displayed on the fuselage sides only on helicopters. The fin flash is displayed on the tailfin. Navy types carry the service title MARINHA on the fuselage sides.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Portuguese naval helicopters use the same serialling system as the air force – a unique five-figure number for each airframe.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Click on aircraft type for more details

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Westland Super Lynx Mk.95 5 5 0 ASW/ASV

 

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Click on aircraft type for more details

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Westland Super Lynx Mk.95 5 1993 current United Kingdom

Aircraft NOT Used

False reports of aircraft on order or in service – none known.

Organisation

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

Organisational Structure

All helicopters are operated by a single squadron, operating from one main base and onboard several ships.

Current Order of Battle

Click on unit name for more details

Squadron Type Base
EHM Super Lynx Mk.95 BA6 Montijo

EHM = Esquadrilha de Helicopteros da Marinha (unofficially 661 Esq.)

Historical Orders of Battle

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

EHM

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

All naval helicopters are operated from BA6 Montijo.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

The only base used so far is Montijo.
Military Air Bases List
Aircraft & helicopter carrying ships

More Information

Books

To be added

Magazines

World Air Power Journal No.24 p.156
Air International April 1996

Websites

Official Portuguese Navy webpage

wikipedia: Portuguese Navy

airliners.net

 

Air Bases and Airfields
Portuguese Naval Aviation

This page gives details of some of the air bases and airfields which are, or have been, used by the Portuguese Navy.

BA6 Montijo (ICAO code: LPMT)
Air Base 6 (BA6) is located directly across the bay from Lisbon, at the end of a peninsula that projects into the bay, about 5 km from the town of Montijo. It was originally constructed in 1953 for the original Portuguese Naval Air Arm, and became an FAP Air Base when the Army and Navy air arms merged on 12 June 1954. The present Esquadrilha de Helicopteros da Marinha was formed here in 1993.
Runway data: Location: N38° 42′ 13.90″ W009° 02′ 09.30″, Elev: 46 ft (14 m), Rwy 08/26, Size: 8005 x 148 ft (2440 x 45 m), Rwy 01/19, Size: 7044 x 148 ft (2147 x 45 m).

Aircraft-Carrying Ships
Portuguese Naval Aviation

This page gives details of the ships which were, or are, used by the aircraft and helicopters of the Portuguese Navy since 1993.

‘Baptista de Andrade’-class (Corvette)
Aft helicopter deck for Super Lynx helicopter.

Pennant Number NRP (Name) Commissioned Decommissioned Deck Code
F486 Baptista de Andrade Nov 1974 current ??
F487 João Roby Mar 1975 current ??
F488 Alfonso Cerquiera June 1975 current ??
F489 Oliveira e Carmo Feb 1976 2002 ??

‘Rover’-class (Fleet Oiler)
Former Royal Fleet Auxiliary ‘Blue Rover’, with aft helicopter deck but no hangar.

Pennant Number NRP (Name) Commissioned Decommissioned Deck Code
A5210 Bérrio Feb 1976 current BE

‘Vasco da Gama’-class (Frigate)
MEKO 200 type. Hangar space for two Super Lynx helicopters, but normally only one each.

Pennant Number NRP (Name) Commissioned Decommissioned Deck Code
F330 Vasco da Gama Nov 1990 current VG
F331 Álvares Cabral Jan 1991 current A
F332 Corte-Real Feb 1992 current CR

 

Esquadrilha de Helicopteros da Marinha
Portuguese Naval Aviation

History

After training by the Royal Navy, the Esquadrilha de Helicopteros da Marinha (EHM, Naval Helicopter Flight) was officially established on 24 September 1993, (not 1995 as other sources state). The helicopters are individually deployed to Vasco da Gama-class Frigates and operate as an integrated part of the Frigate’s weapons system. Specifically, the helicopters carry out Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) and naval interdiction missions. They can also perform Search and Rescue, patrol and VIP transport duties. The EHM is unofficially referred to as 661 Esquadrilha, using the FAP’s unit designation system.

Subordinate Units

None

Aircraft

Type Qty Service Example Serials
Super Lynx Mk.95 5 Sept 1993 – Present xx


Unit Markings

 



Main Bases

Base Duration
BA6 Montijo Sept 1993 – Present


Photographs

None at present.

More Information

References

  • To be added.

Other Sources

To be added.

Westland Super Lynx Mk.95
Portuguese Naval Aviation

History

Five Super Lynx Mk.95 ordered in 1990 and delivered from June 1993. The first two were converted ex-Royal Navy HAS.3 machines and the other three new-build. Used for shipboard fishery protection and rescue duties. Initially serialled 9201-9205.

Individual Details

Serial c/no. Prev. Identity Delivered Fate/Notes
19201 WA336 ZH580 29 June 1993*  
19202 WA338 ZH581 29 June 1993*  
19203 WA375 ZH582 11 Nov 1993  
19204 WA376 ZH583 13 Nov 1993  
19205 WA377 ZH584 13 Nov 1993  

* Demobbed Aircraft says 24 Aug 1993.

Pictures

None available at present.

More Information

References

Other Sources

To be added.

Portuguese Air Force

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

Air Force History

Key Dates

Air Force Timeline

Current Status

The aircraft of the FAP are fully operational.

Future Plans

None known.


Markings

National Insignia

National Markings

Aircraft Serial Numbers

From 1952 FAP serial numbers comprised a four digit number, the first number indicating the aircraft class, the second the aircraft type and the last two the individual identity – Republic F-84G 5121 being the 21st example of class 5 (fighters) type 1.

In 1993 a revision to the numbering system meant that the prefix ‘1’ was placed in front of the old serial of existing aircraft as each airframe came up for in-depth maintenance.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Avenida Leite Vasconcelos, 27 Alfragide, 2700 Amadora.

Organisational Structure

FAP is divided into three commands:-
COFA – Comando Operacional da Força Aérea (Air Force Operational Command)
CLAFA – Comando Logístico-Administrativo da Força Aérea (Air Force Logistics and Administration Command)
CPESFA – Comando de Pessoal da Força Aérea (Air Force Personnel Command)


COFA is distributed geographically to Base Aéreas (BA, air bases), each of which comprises three Grupos (Groups):-
Operacional (Operational) – flying units & airfield services
Material (Material) – maintenance & supply
Sustentação (Support) – base infrastructure


The basic flying unit is the Esquadra (Squadron).

Current Order of Battle

Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle

List of Historical Orders of Battle – to be added.

All-Time Flying Units List

Units List

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The main air bases currently used are Sintra, Lajes, Monte Real, Montijo, Beja and Ovar. In addition, aircraft are detached from the parent units to another one or two air bases.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

In addition to the main bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing – to be added.

More Information

Books

Portguese Military Aviation Bibliography – to be added.

Magazines

World Air Power Journal No.1 p.146
World Air Power Journal No.24 p.148-157
Air Forces Research Nos.11
Air International April 1996
Air Enthusiast No.73 Jan-Feb 1998
Air Enthusiast No.75 May-Jun 1998

Websites

Aeroflight Pictorial – Portuguese Air Force

Portuguese Air Force Homepage

wikipedia: Portuguese Air Force

Scramble: Portuguese Air Force

PlanePictures.net

Airliners.net

Photos of Portugal Air Force and Navy aircrafts

Air-Britain Photos: Portugal Air Force

Voaportugal.org

Current Order of Battle
Portuguese Air Force

Squadron Type Base
Academia de Forca Aerea
Esquadra de Motorplanadores 802 Chipmunk, Let L-23 Super Blanik, ASK-21 BA1 Sintra
Esquadra de Instrucao Elementar de Pilotagen 101 TB-30 Epsilon BA1 Sintra
CFMTFA
  various Ota
Grupo Operacional 41
Esquadra 502 (det.) Casa C-295M BA4 Lajes
Esquadra 751 (det.) AW101 BA4 Lajes
Grupo Operacional 51
Esquadra de Caca 201 F-16AM/BM BA5 Monte Real
Esquadra de Ataque 301 F-16AM/BM BA5 Monte Real
Grupo Operacional 61
Esquadra de Transporte 501 C-130H/H-30 BA6 Montijo
Esquadra de Transporte 502 C-295M/MPA BA6 Montijo
Esquadra de Transporte 504 Falcon 20C/50 BA6 Montijo/Lisbon IAP
Esquadra de Busca y Salvamento 751 AW101 BA6 Montijo
Grupo Operacional 111
Esquadra de Instrucao Complementar de Pilotagen de Avioes de Caca 103 Alpha Jet A BA11 Beja
Esquadra de Transporte 552 SA 316 Alouette III BA11 Beja
Esquadra de Reconhecimento Maritimo 601 P-3P Orion BA11 Beja
Grupo Operacional 113
Esquadra de Transporte 552 (det.) SA 316 Alouette III BA13 Ovar

CFMTFA = Centro de Formacao Militar e Tecnica da Forca Aerea (Air Force Technical School)
.

 

Aircraft Not Used
Portuguese Air Force

This page gives details of some of the aircraft types that were offered or promised to the Portuguese Air Force but not delivered, cancelled official orders, and types have been falsely reported as being in service.

Saro Skeeter
In July 1961, West Germany sold 10 non-airworthy Skeeters to the Portuguese Air Force but Westland subsequently abandoned a project to restore them to flying condition.