RAMSTEIN, Germany – The Portuguese Air Force has operated the multirole F-16 Fighting Falcon since 1994, maintaining a permanent high readiness Quick Reaction Alert at Air Base No 5 in Monte Real safeguarding NATO's Atlantic flank.
This 24/7/365 Air Policing mission, executed by 201 Sqn (Falcons) and 301 Sqn (Jaguars), ensures the integrity of the national airspace and contributes to the collective defence efforts of the Alliance as part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). Such commitments involve Air Surveillance systems, Command and Control structures and dedicated aircraft, as well as highly trained airmen, able to detect, track, identify, intercept and engage any targets, day or night.
Portuguese F-16s launch on Quick Reaction Alert at Air Base No 5 in Monte Real, Portugal safeguarding NATO's Atlantic flank. Photo courtesy of the Portuguese Air Force.
Russian TU-95 Bear seen through the sensors of a Portuguese F-16 during an Air Policing mission. Allied fighters regularly intercept unidentified aircraft near NATO airspace. Photo courtesy of the Portuguese Air Force.
Additionally, the Portuguese Air Force regularly participates in NATO Air Policing missions to safeguard the airspace of other Allies. Currently, Portuguese F-16s are deployed to Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania for Baltic Air Policing. Other contributions include Baltics Air Policing deployments in 2007, 2014, 2016, and 2018, as well as, in Iceland in 2012 and again in 2022. This enduring commitment to enforce the Alliance deterrence and defence posture, has also included several detachments in Romania (2015 and 2017) and Poland (2019 and 2020), as part of the Assurance Measures framework.
The Portuguese Air Force will always remain committed towards safeguarding the allied airspace
"The Portuguese Air Force will always remain committed towards safeguarding the allied airspace," said Major Emídio Fernandes, Commander of the Portuguese Air Force Detachment at Siauliai.
The effectiveness of this mission relies on highly trained airmen, doctrinal and procedural knowledge, advanced sensors and airborne systems, as well as a networked, robust, resilient and interoperable Command and Control structure.
As it approaches its 70th Anniversary in 2022, the Portuguese Air Force will continue to actively contribute to keep our populations safe and defend NATO airspace.