Portuguese Air Force
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Air Force

Current Title: Forca Aerea Portuguesa
Title in English: Portuguese Air Force
Abbreviation: FAP


Narrative Summary:
1912 Institute of Portuguese Military Aviation founded with aircraft brought by public subscription. 1914-1915 Army officers flying training with France, Britain and USA. 1917 Arma da Aeronautica formed as separate branch of the Army. 1927 Army aviation considerably expanded and reorganised - now operates practically autonomously under Ministry of War. Late 1937 reorganised and expanded again. 1 July 1952 Army and Navy air arms amalgamated into independent Portuguese Air Force.

Key Dates:
1 July 1952    Air Force formed from amalgamation of Army and Navy air arms
1952    First jet aircraft delivered - Vampire T.55
1954    First helicopters received - UH-19

Current Status:
To be added

Future Plans:
Replace the Alouette IIIs with EC.120 Colibri helicopters.
A structural life extension and avionics update is planned for the P-3P Orions to bring them into line with the 5 ex-MLD P-3Cs recently acquired.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):

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.


Aircraft Designation System(s):
None - Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service


Main Headquarters:
Avenida Leite Vasconcelos, 27 Alfragide, 2700 Amadora.

Current 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:
To be added.

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, here 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


Portuguese Military Aviation Bibliography - to be added.


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


Aeroflight Pictorial - Portuguese Air Force

Portuguese Air Force Homepage

wikipedia: Portuguese Air Force

Scramble: Portuguese Air Force



Photos of Portugal Air Force and Navy aircrafts

Air-Britain Photos: Portugal Air Force


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First Created: 11 November 1995 - Last Revised: 18 May 2008
Copyright © 1995 John Hayles.    e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk