During their deployment, the Portuguese detachment flew training missions and took part in NATO exercises with other Allies, specifically the Polish hosts. This combined training increased the interoperability of the forces involved and strengthened the commitment for collective defence of the Alliance. Beyond the organizational level, direct and personal relationships were established working closely together and learning with each other.
We demonstrated our ability to adapt and continue to operate while deployed, despite the current pandemic
“Besides contributing to NATO Assurance Measures, it was a great experience for us from the operational and logistic point of view to train in a deployed setting and to take advantage of the diverse training opportunities available in the region,” said Major Filipe Cordeiro, Portuguese detachment commander.
Host nation support is also key for the success of any detachment. “We received great support from our Polish friends, not only here at Malbork, where we felt very
welcome and benefited from their incredible flexibility to support our needs, but also from the Polish F-16 maintenance team at the 32nd Air Base at Lask, and other units of the Polish Air Force,” Major Cordeiro added.
The Portuguese F-16 deployment took place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and adequate measures were adopted to preserve public health, protect the people and prevent any impact on the operational capability of the force. “We had no confirmed or suspected cases in these two months, and we demonstrated our ability to adapt and continue to operate while deployed, despite the current pandemic,” Major Cordeiro underlined.
In recent years, Portugal has been a regular contributor to NATO Assurance Measures, with deployments in Romania and Poland, and to Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania, not only with F-16 fighter jets, but also with P-3 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. In 2021 the Portuguese Air Force is scheduled to participate in Baltic Air Policing with their F-16 fighters continuing Portugal’s support for NATO collective defence and deterrence missions.