Thursday, December 13, 2007

Czech Republic cancels Pandur II contract?

The blog of the Spanish group Circulo Trubia - dedicated to the study of armoured vehicles - has made a brief analyses of the czech cancellation of the contract signed in 2006 with Steyr for 199 Pandur II armoured vehicles. According to this source, such radical decision it is seen more as a strategie to force the austrian company to accept a reduction of the number of vehicles.

[Photo from Steyr-Daimler-Puch.]

Meanwhile, the Portuguese Army is going to evaluate, next week, at Santa Margarida training camp, the first prototype of the Mobile Gun System (MGS) version. The prototype is equipped with a belgian CMI CT-CV turret, armed with a 105mm caliber gun. Such trials are included in the original contract, since Portugal has an option for 33 vehicles configured as MGS.

Pedro Monteiro

Saturday, December 8, 2007

New article about the Portuguese Army (II)

As previous noted, the December issue of the spanish defence magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo ( publishes the second part of an article about the Portuguese Army.
In resume, the article comprises both an analysis of the present equipment and a review of the main programmes for new weapon systems (such as the Pandur II armoured vehicle or the Leopard 2A6 main battle tank).

MAGAZINE DISTRIBUTED IN: Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and USA.

Pedro Monteiro

Portuguese SAR helicopter fleet

The Montijo air base is one of the most important air bases of the Portuguese Air Force. In fact, it is there where is based the C-130 fleet, the EH-101 fleet, as well as the P-3C fleet. An interesting fact: from its huge area we can see, on the oposite side of the Tagus river, the portuguese capital - Lisbon.

Recently, I had the opportuniy of visiting the unit which operates the EH-101 Merlin fleet - 751 Sqn. "Pumas -, whose main mission is conducting search and rescue (SAR) operations along the portuguese coastline and maritime area.

Portugal has received twelve EH-101 Merlin helicopters. The photo shows one of them prepared for a new mission. [click to enlarge].

Pedro Monteiro

Military ceremony at Leiria

As part of the official comemoration of the Army Day, the military branch organizes, which year, a military ceremony at October 21st. This year, Leiria was the place chosen by the military for a ceremony which mobilized more than 1.000 troops. Such event also counted with the presence of the Minister of Defense, Professor Nuno Severiano Teixeira. In hs speech, the Minister underlined the modernization of the military branch in what he considers to be the "first great programme since the April 25th, 1974".

I made a report of the event for the Spanish magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo as part of an article about the Portuguese Army which I am writing.

The military ceremony included speechs by the Chief of Staff of the Portuguese Army as well by the Minister of Defence. After it, during a brief encounter with the press, the Chief of Staff of the Portuguese Army declared that his goal for personnel is to reach a total of 24.500 military, inclunding 14.500 foot soldiers [click to enlarge].

A M109 A5 self-propelled howitzer. Its 155mm caliber canon, as well the improvements in communications and data transfers have put the portuguese artillery up to the level of allied forces [click to enlarge].

Pedro Monteiro

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New article about the Portuguese Army

The November issue of the spanish defence magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo ( publishes the first part of an article about the Portuguese Army.

On the one hand, the first part covers the structure and missions of the military branch. On the other other hand, the December issue will cover the equipment and weapon systems operated by the Army.
This work is, in fact, the final result of several reports which I have been doing for the past few months - some of them are presented here.

MAGAZINE DISTRIBUTED IN: Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and USA.

Pedro Monteiro

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Special operations in the Portuguese Army

Lamego, a city in the North region of Portugal, it is the home of the special operations of the Portuguese Army. Their formation and operational activity occurs in the Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais (Center of Special Operations Troops), a military unit which was created in 1960. Since 2006, this unit is part of the new Brigada de Reacção Rápida (Quick Reaction Brigade).

Troops from the Centro de Tropas de Operações Especiais during a train in Penude, last October 4th [click to enlarge].

I visited Lamego last friday, October 4th, in order to collect data and photographs for an article for the Spanish magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo.

Pedro Monteiro

New article about the portuguese Pandur II programme

The brazilian web site Defesa Net, dedicated to defence news, published a brief article about the portuguese Pandur II programme. This article does, on the one hand, a review of the production of the Steyr's armoured vehicle in Barreiro and, on the other hand, a brief description of the characteristics portuguese vehicles. In fact, several photographs and data of it were obtained during the ceremony of last September 25th, when the first vehicle produced in Portugal was presented (see the report published on this page).

A vertical photograph showing a frontal view of a portuguese Pandur II, in this case, the first one assembled in Barreiro [click to enlarge].

The full article, avaible only in portuguese, can be consulted here:

Pedro Monteiro

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Military ceremony at the city of Tomar

This year, the commemoration of the Day of the Brigada de Reacção Rápida (Quick Reaction Brigade) had one innovation: the ceremony did not take place in the military base of Tancos, as usual, but in the downtown of Tomar, one of the cities where is located a combat unit of this Portuguese Army’s light brigade.
Hence, the population – after all, the source for new volunteers - had a rare opportunity of contact with the men and equipments of this brigade and to know more about their missions and operational deployment – for example, the Brigada de Reacção Rápida has, currently, a company deployed in the demanding scenario of Afghanistan.

The ceremony included, on the one hand, a military parade with about 1.000 men – including troops equipped for combat – and, on the other hand, a demonstration of capabilities in the local stadium. It was, indeed, a good oportunity for the Brigada de Reacção Rápida promote a closer contact with the local population, and, for what I saw, the population seemed very interested in this activity.

I made a report of the event for the Spanish magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo as part of an article about the Portuguese Army which I am writing.

A portuguese paratrooper. They are easily recognizable for their green barret. In the begining of the 1990s, they were part of the Air Force. They were the first combat force which was sent by Portugal for a peacekeeping operation - which ocurred in 1996, in Bosnia [click to enlarge].

A comando in the military ceremony. This is a military unit for assault and antiterrorist operations which is now part of the new Brigada de Reacção Rápida. Along with the paratroops, they are the military force which is responsible for the mission in Afghanistan - the comandos rotate with the paratroops every six months.

A member of the portuguese special operations. The unit of special operations of the Army is part of the Brigada de Reacção Rápida, together with the paratroops and the comandos, an assault infantry unit.

Two french-built Panhard VBL armoured vehicles. They are assigned to the Regimento de Cavalaria nº 3 (3rd Cavalry Regiment), the unit responsible for the reconnaissance squadron of the Brigada de Reacção Rápida. Notice the anti-tank missile Milan and the AN/PPS-5B radar.

A different kind of photo - in fact, a portrait of a portuguese comando. The companionship between these men is one of the key elements of the unit, which is known by its singular identity and traditions [click to enlarge].

Pedro Monteiro

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Delivery of the first Pandur II produced by Fabrequipa

Fabrequipa - Steyr’s local industrial partner for the production of 219 of the 260 Pandur II ordered by Portugal - presented the first vehicle produced in Portugal. The ceremony took place in the assembly line, located in Barreiro, yesterday, September 25th.

During the ceremony, Francisco Pita, from Fabrequipa, annouced that soon the company will have "a complete portfolio of products, comprising armoured vehicles and non armoured vehicles, from 4x4 to 8x8, until the maximum weight of 25 tons".
The Portuguese Army will receive, until the end of 2007, a total of 24 armoured vehicles. The first batch is being delivered this week. Besides, Fabrequipa will start, in 2008, the production of 20 vehicles in the amphibian version for the Portuguese Navy.

Furthermore, the portuguese company is studying the market of light 4x4 armoured vehicle. In fact, three foreign companies have already contact it with proposals for the local production of their vehicles. As noted by Francisco Pita, Fabrequipa will participate with such proposal in a contest for the acquisition of 100 vehicles for the Army's light brigade, the Brigada de Reacção Rápida.
Portugal has also taken an option for 33 vehicles configured as Mobile Gun Systems (MGS) and armed with a 105mm gun. A prototype with two different turrets is being tested in Austria and soon will make some trials in Portugal. “These tests will allow the evaluation of both turret’s efficiency and vehicle’s behaviour with the turret”, Vítor Franco said in August. If Lisbon orders such vehicles, their production will begin in 2010, when the current production ceases.

A look at the ICV7, the first Pandur II produced in Portugal. The portuguese media had a strong presence in the ceremony which marked the introduction of a new armoured vehicle, 40 years after the delivery of the veteran Chaimite [click to enlarge].

The assembly line of Fabrequipa is located in Barreiro, near Lisbon. Up to eight vehicles can be produced monthly [click to enlarge].

One of the seven Pandur II delivered this week to the Army, in fact, the first one produced in Portugal, "gave a ride" do the portuguese journalists [click to enlarge].

Pedro Monteiro

Thursday, September 6, 2007

P-3C Orion in the Portuguese Air Force

This photo shows one of the five P-3C Orion aicrafts received, from The Netherlands, in the year 2006. It was taken during the 10th of June military parade at the same year. This was, indeed, the first public appearance of a P-3C after their delivery.

If you read spanish, the magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo (check its web site) published, in May of 2006, an article wrote by me about the operation of the P-3P Orion fleet and the reception of the new P-3C from The Netherlands.

Actually, since then the maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare missions have been taken by the two remaining P-3P. The five P-3C will begin their operative carrier in the Portuguese Air Force soon, probably in Beja's air base.
RNLN - PoAF - Version
300 - 14807 - CUP Coastal Guard
304 - 14808 - P-3C-II.5
306 - 14809 - P-3C-II.5
307 - 14810 - CUP Coastal Guard
310 - 14811 - P-3C-II.5

Source: Ministério da Defesa Nacional (2006)
I suggest the reading of the book The Age of Orion: The Lockheed P-3 Story, wrote by David Reade. Although it is not quite recent (it was published in 1998), it gives us a complete descripition of the development of the project and also about the operation of the Orion around the globe.

Pedro Monteiro

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dassault-Dornier Alpha-Jet

The French Air Force was present in the 2005 edition of the Portugal Air Show, the main portuguese air show. The french participation consisted in two demonstrations with the Dassault-Dornier Alpha-Jet: one by the well known Patrouille de France and the other one by Capitaine Laurent "Tom" Thomeret from L'Ecole de L'Avation de Chasse, Touraine. Thomeret's Alpha-Jet made a great flying display and was also present in the statical exhibition.

Currently, the Alpha-Jet is operated by Belgium, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, France, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal, Qatar and Thailand. Portugal has begun the operation of this aircraft in 1993. The 50 aircrafts, received from Luftwaffe, were operated by 301 Squadron Jaguares (close air support) and 103 Squadron Caracóis (instruction), both based in Beja. After the transition of the Jaguares to the F-16 MLU (they now operate from Monte Real), the Caracóis assumed the close air support as a secondary mission and recieved the remaining operational fleet - with 15-20 aircrafts. They're also responsable for the acrobatic air team Asas de Portugal.

This series of photos is part of a report which I made for the magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo.

Capitaine Thomeret's Alpha-Jet after its demonstration.

A general view of the Alpha-Jet just a few minutes after is arrival at Évora. A second aircraft was in reserve. The force was supported by a C-160 Transal, based at Beja.

The french Alpha-Jet after its flying display - you can see, in the background, the city of Évora.

A close look at the markings of the aircraft.

Pedro Monteiro

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


On the last 21st of August, I have visited the assembly line of the Fabrequipa, located in Barreiro, where a part of the 260 Pandur II armoured vehicles ordered by Lisbon is being produced.
I was kindly received by Eng. Vítor Franco who, namely, described me the process of producting these modern armoured vehicles and the contacts that have been made during the last few months to assure a significant participation of the portuguese industry in the project.

I also had the chance to see and photograph the first seven vehicles produced in Viena and Barreiro and that will be delivered to the portuguese Army in September - in 2008, the Navy will receive 20 vehicles for the marines. At the same time, a few more - in several stages of their production- were being mounted in the Barreiro. In fact, according to Steyr, 24 vehicles will be provided to the portuguese forces until the end of the year.

A portuguese Pandur II in tests in Viena. Noticed the armour plates attached to the hull (photo from Steyr/Buss).

Soon I will post photos of the visit and a few more notes.

Pedro Monteiro

Obs: I would like to express my acknowledges to Mrs. Silke Buss, in representation of Steyr, who was responsable for the organization of this visit.

Portugal Air Show 2007

Finally, with less than a month away, some informations were given about the military aircrafts that will appear in this year's edition of the Portugal Air Show - the most important airshow of Portugal.
Thus, the skies of the city of Évora will be flown over by the acrobatic teams Asas de Portugal, Rotores de Portugal and the spanish ASPA; the Navy will present a demo with a Super Lynx and an unit of marines; the Air Force will also make an appearance with EH-101 Merlin and Alouette III helicopters and the F-16 fighter in a tactical exhibition.

In this site you can check more informations about the airshow (text in portuguese).

Pedro Monteiro

Pristina 072

In the context of the preparation of a new mission in Kosovo, the portuguese Army conducted the exercise Pristina 072. While it was taking place, I have made a report for the spanish magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo - as part of a series of reports that I have been making in order to gather photos and informations for an article about the Portuguese Army.
Irá decorrer no período de 18 a 27 de Julho de 2007 na Região de Vouzela, o Exercício “PRISTINA – 072”, que corresponde ao final do aprontamento do 2º Batalhão de Infantaria da Brigada de Intervenção (BrigInt), que a partir de Setembro de 2007 irá cumprir missão no Teatro de Operações (TO) do Kosovo.

Com a realização deste exercício pretende-se validar os níveis de treino de aperfeiçoamento operacional alcançados pelo Batalhão e a capacidade operacional da Força. De uma forma geral, o exercício permitirá praticar o planeamento, o controlo e a conduta de operações tácticas, associadas às Peace Support Operations (PSO), no quadro das missões e tarefas passíveis de serem desempenhadas pelo Batalhão no TO, tendo como referencial o ambiente operacional que se vive no Kosovo e as possíveis evoluções.
In the last ten years, the Brigada de Intervenção (the medium brigade of the military branch) mobilized more than 4.000 men and 11 units in several peacekeeping missions, such as in Bósnia, Kosovo and East Timor. Currently, it is preparing an unit of military engineers for the portuguese mission in Liban.

Since March its 2nd. Infantary Battalion (from Viseu) has been training for the mission in Kosovo, where will replace the forces of the Brigada Mecanizada.

As part of this preparation, the Army organized an exercise in the region of Vouzela between 18 and 26 July. As indicated in the briefing, the Pristina 072 mobilized 400 men (298 from the unit intended to Kosovo), 70 tactical vehicles and 9 armoured vehicles. It was also one of the last exercises that involve the veteran Chaimite fleet before the reception - in September - of the first Pandur II armoured vehicles.

A Panhard VBL M-11 light armoured vehicle.

A Chaimite V-200 armoured personnel carrier (APC) has given protection and fire support to the portuguese troops during the exercise. In Kosovo, the portuguese militaries will find nine of these vehicles - the last ones to be dettached in a foreign country.

Pedro Monteiro

Portuguese frigates to Uruguay (2)

In June, I have published a brief news about the possible sale of portuguese frigates to the authorities of Montevideo (look here). Recently, the same contact has informed me that the local press has noticed that, during the visit of the President of the Republic of Urugay in Portugal, in September, the acquisition will be announced.
The authorities in Montevideo have not annouced this fact yet, but that is normal even in the case of weapon systems bought second handed from other countries. In fact, the information about any acquisition is only given after the conclusion of the negociations and the signature of a formal agreement.
According to portuguese sources, the two frigates from João Belo class (similar to the french Commandant Rivière) could be transfered to Urugay by the end of this year - and will not have the AN/SQS-510 sonar.

Pedro Monteiro

Scale of the USS Eisenhower at Lisbon

Between 12th and 16th May, the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) has made a technical scale in Lisbon, after a six months' mission in the Persion Gulf. Although the presence of an american aicraft carrier in a portuguese port is rare, in last November the USS Enterprise has made a technical scale at Lisbon. With the invitation of the American Embassy, I have made a visit to this ship in representation of Fuerzas Militares del Mundo.

A look at the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) shows several models of aircrafts which operate from the warship, such as the case of the E-2C Hawkeye, the A/F-18 E/F Super Hornet and the EA-6B.

A Super Hornet of the VFA-103 Jolly Rogers.

A long line of Ike's F-18 Hornet fleet. The fighter force of the aircraft carrier has more combat aircrafts than many air forces around the world.

Always impressive is the E-2C, an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft. Notice its radar antenna on the top of the aircraft.

Pedro Monteiro

Article about the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

As the result of the visit, organized by the United States Embassy, to the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), I have published an article which on the Portuguese Air Force official magazine, the Mais Alto.

Pedro Monteiro

Monday, July 16, 2007

Coimbra Air Show 2007

Here are some photographs that I have taken during the weekend on the airshow. The airshow had some flaws, like the impossibility of using the oposite side of the runway during the afternoon - because of that, everyone, including the press, had to take the photgraphs against the sunlight with every disadvantage this situation implies. In any case, it is good to see an airshow in the city where I live since I usually have to make long trips in order to see one.

A soviet-build Yakovlev Yak-52 - which is a primary trainer - made a great exhibition on the saturday afternoon. The portuguese pilot pushed the aicraft to its limits and impressed the public.

The two Alpha-Jet from the Asas de Portugal. The two pilots were also present in the aerodrome for an autograph session.

A C-212 Aviocar made flights with children during the sunday. In the next year the Portuguese Air Force will receive the first C-295Ms which will substitute this aircraft.

A classical and impressive Boeing-Stearman N62TS from the Aerofénix museum.

A Allouette III with the paint scheme of the Rotores de Portugal. But, contrary to what was announced, they did not make an exhibition during the airshow.

Pedro Monteiro

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coimbra Airshow 2007

According to the Air Force, the programme of the Coimbra Air Show will include a significant presence of the military branch:

A Força Aérea Portuguesa irá marcar presença nem Coimbra, durante o fim-de-semana de 14 e 15JUL07, no âmbito das celebrações do do 31ª Aniversário do do Aero Clube de Coimbra. A presença da Força Aérea inicia-se no Sábado dia 14JUL07, pelas 09H30, no Aerodromo Municipal Bissaya Barreto, com a aterragem de um DO-27 do Museu do Ar, a fim de participar na exposição estática de aeronaves. Aquando da abertura do evento, pelas 10H00 de 14JUL07, os
visitantes poderão contactar com uma exposição do Museu do Ar, sob a temática "1917 - 2007, 90 anos a formar pilotos militares em Portugal". Nesta exposição, para além de vários artigos do valioso espólio do Museu do Ar, encontra-se também exposto um avião biplano "TIGER MOUTH", dos anos 20 do século passado. O Centro de Recrutamento da Força Aérea estará presente no aeródromo, para explicar a todos os interessados as várias qualificações de
elevado nível técnico e saídas profissionais, oferecidas pela Força Aérea. Da parte da tarde, a internacionalmente famosa patrulha ASAS DE PORTUGAL, irá executar um treino acrobático sobre os céus de Coimbra.

Pelas 22H00, na Praça da Canção, a Banda da Força Aérea irá actuar (entrada livre) com um reportório digno da reputação que a caracteriza, tanto em Portugal como no estrangeiro. No Domingo dia 15JUL07, pelas 09H00, no Aeródromo Bissaya Barreto, serão recebidas inscrições para baptismos de voo de crianças, em aeronave C212 AVIOCAR (de Sintra). Já da parte da tarde, o visitante do certame poderá assistir entre outros eventos, a uma demonstração de salvamento por guincho com um helicóptero ALOUETTE III (de Beja), e uma espectacular exibição acrobática dos ASAS DE PORTUGAL. Entretanto, os pilotos dos ASAS DE PORTUGAL vão estar disponíveis para sessões de autógrafos nos Sábado 14JUL e Domingo 15JUL de manhã, no Aeródromo Bissaya Barreto, bem como no Sábado 14JUL à noite na Praça da Canção.
Pedro Monteiro

Friday, July 6, 2007

Airshow at Coimbra

Next week, an airshow will take place at Coimbra. Both the Asas de Portugal and the Rotores de Portugal, the two acrobatic teams of the portuguese Air Force, will be present in this event.

Pedro Monteiro

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Spotter's day at Beja

Last friday, on 29th June, the Portuguese Air Force organized, for the first time, a spotter's day. This gave to the portuguese community of plane spotters the rare opportunity of take some photographs inside of a military base - in this case, Beja's air base, located in the south of the country. Actually, it was the first time that this occured, since the spotter's day organized in 2002 was part of the Nato Tiger Meet military exercise - which also took place in Beja.

The Portuguese Air Force must be congratulated for the excellent reception gaven to the spotters: during all the day, we were moved from one area to the another in order to assure the best conditions for photograph the aircraft (angles, sun light, etc.); we were able to visit the front line of every squadron and assist to the preparation of some missions with Alpha-Jet and Epsilon aircrafts; finally, along with the Alouette III helicopters and Alpha-Jet and Epsilon aircrafts assigned to the 552, 101 and 103 Sqd. based in Beja, the air base recieved the rare visit of a C-130 transport aircraft, a P-3P maritime patrol aircraft and two F-16 A/B OCU fighters. In addition, the acrobatic teams Asas de Portugal (Alpha-Jet) e Rotores de Portugal (Alouette III) made their train for the exhibition of saturday.

For instance, this was the begining of a new relationship between the Air Force and the portuguese plane spotters. As an aviaton enthusiast, I must give my acknowledge for the great day that I had at Beja - it was one of the best visits that I ever made to an air base, including those that I made as a reporter.

A F-16B OCU (15118) from 201 Squadron "Falcões", based at Monte Real, arrives to Beja after a flight with the winner of a television contest. A monoplace (F-16 A, 15112, with low-viz marks) also took part of this special mission.

The impressive demonstration of the Asas de Portugal, here flying their two Alpha-Jet A in a close formation and at high speed.

A Alpha-Jet A aircraft arrives from a train mission. The Alpha-Jet fleet is now assigned to 103 Squadron "Caracóis", whose instructors are also pilots of the acrobatic team Asas de Portugal. The other operator, the 301 Squadron "Jaguares", is currently based in Monte Real where operates the modern F-16 MLU.

A Epsilon from 101 Squadron "Roncos" with a Alpha-Jet in the background. Currently, they are the backbone of the trainning fleet of the Portuguese Air Force.

The arrival of another Alpha-Jet A, painted with the old wrap around scheme.

The portuguese spotters captured every angle possible of this Alpha-Jet from the Asas de Portugal. Although it was the first time that a spotter's day occured in Portugal, the number of photographers and enthusiasts was very significant, inclunding some well-known portuguese spotters such as Luís Rosa, Jorge Ruivo, Álvaro Gonçalves, Luís Gonçalves, Pedro Becken, Floriano Morgado along with others.

Pedro Monteiro

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Informations about the João Belo class

In the Military Zone I present a brief description of the João Belo class frigates. As I reported, the two remaining vessels will be sell to Uuruguay. The authorities of Montevideo plan to use this two frigates (similar to those they now operate) for about seven years, at a cust of 15 millions of euros.

Constituem juntamente com as fragatas Meko 200 os principais meios de combate da Armada. Inicialmente foram recebidos quatro navios, porém, actualmente apenas se encontram no activo três fragatas. (...) Atendendo aos requisitos da Armada para operar nos combates nas colónias africanas as fragatas foram equipadas para realizar estas missões. (...)
A modernização destes navios apenas ocorreria no final da década de 1990 (quando tinham já uma vida operacional de 30 anos), com a modernização a ocorrer em apenas três dos quatros navios iniciais, visto que a N.R.P. "Roberto Ivens" tinha sido abatida em 1998. A falta de verbas implicou apenas algumas alterações: foram modernizadas as acomodações e instalações para tripulantes, a capacidade para armazenamento de água doce foi aumentada, os sensores e sistemas electrónicos modernizados, e retiraram-se a terceira peça de 100mm (Mod55) e o morteiro anti-submarino. Esta modernização permitiu essencialmente capacitar o navio para o cumprimento de missões de manutenção de paz e prolongar a sua vida operacional.
Actualmente cumprem na Armada as missões de treino e luta ASW, embora mais recentemente tenham participado em missões de paz e em vários exercícios.
Em 2000, no âmbito da missão da UNTAET, parte para Timor-Leste a N.R.P. "Hermenegildo Capelo", tendo como função render a N.R.P. "Vasco da Gama" (Meko 200), prestando auxílio à população timorense durante o processo de transição.
Recentemente, em 2001, a fragata N.R.P. "Sacadura Cabral" integrou a EUROMARFOR uma frota constituída por vasos de guerra de Portugal, França, Espanha e Itália. No âmbito desta missão participou entre outros, nos exercício Trident d'Or e Tapon cujo fim é avaliar as prestações dos navios nas missões de luta ASW.
Espera-se que estes navios continuem a navegar até 2010, altura em que se pensa virem a ser substituídos por unidades novas ou usadas (...)

In the second half of the 1990s, Portugal executed a modernization of the three frigates which were operational (a fourth had been redraw from service). The modernization (fully described on this article) gave allows that these ships accomplish secundary missions on the portuguese Navy, since the modern Vasco da Gama class has become the backbone of the fleet. Actually, the N.R.P. Hermegildo Capelo was deployed in East Timor, in 2000, and, usually, the ships of the class have been assigned to surveillance and instruction missions, but also too international exercises.

[Photo taken with a Nikon F65 cammera and a Nikon AF 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G lens]

The 1990s' modernization consisted, for example, in the instalation of a new and modern sonar (AN/SQS-510, the same model used by the Vasco da Gama class), Mk32 Mod5 triple torpedo tubes, a new navigation radar and communication and control systems, a new electronic warfare system. The anti-submarine mortar and the third Mod 55 artillery gun were retired in order to reduce the crew. The ships were also prepared to recieve women sailors. This modernization clearly gave to this 1960s ships a new life and increased their capabilities.

[Photo taken with a Nikon F65 cammera and a Nikon AF 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G lens]

In addition, the João Belo class can recieve a large number of marines to support amphibious operations and other missions. This capability was used, for example, in 1998, in the Guiné-Bissau during the rescue of the portuguese refuges.
During the last decade, the portuguese Navy was studying their replacement. On 2005, it seemed clear that Portugal would recieve two american OH Perry frigates. A brief article which includes some references to the programme is avaible in Defesa Net.
When the socialists returned to the power, in the same year, it become clear that another option could be taken (see another article that I wrote for Defesa Net). In fact, by the year 2000, Portugal had even studied the two Jacob van Heemskerck class frigates. Finally, in 2006, an agreement was signed for the delivery, in 2008 and 2009, of two Karel Doorman frigates. Comparing with the previous option, they are more recent ships, they have several weapon systems and sensors and equipements in common with the Vasco da Gama class (Meko 200PN) and they're multi-role ships. It's true that the portuguese Navy wanted a air-defence ship but a frigate OH Perry with her SM-1 missiles could not accomplish that mission due the new meneaces and anti-ship missiles.

Pedro Monteiro

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Portugal Air Show 2007

The main reference for the portuguese aviation enthusiasts is the Portugal Air Show, a biannual airshow. This year, it will happen, as usual at Évora, between 14th and 16th September. In this site you can check the first information (text in portuguese).

Pedro Monteiro

Asas de Portugal

The Asas de Portugal, one of the two acrobatic teams of the portuguese Air Force, is equipped with the Alpha-Jet. Last weekend, at June 9th, they made a demonstration in Setúbal, as part of the official commemorations of Portugal's national day.
This season, they have several demonstrations in international airshows:

22th June: Midnight Sun Airshow, Finland
22th Jully: Sanicole International Airshow, Belgium
1th September: Bex International Airshow, Swiss

For the portuguese readers, we will be abble to see their impressive demonstration in the following occasions:

30th June: Dia da Força Aérea, Beja
15th and 16th Jully: Festival Aéreo, Coimbra
14th and 15th September: Portugal Air Show, Évora

Pedro Monteiro

Army Day

Every year, in October, the portuguese Army commemorates its day. In 2005, the ceremony took place at Coimbra, where the Brigada de Intervenção (the medium brigade, then called Brigada Ligeira de Intervenção) has its command. As usual, there was an exhibition of equipements and, in adition, a military parade happened on Av. Emídio Navarro, near the Mondego, Coimbra's iconical river.
Below, I present some photographs of the vehicles which were present at the exhibition.

The three types of wheeled armoured vehicles operated by the portuguese Army are shown in the photo. Begining in its left side, a Panhard VBL M-11, a Cadillac Gage V-150 with a Cockerill turret with a 90mm gun and, finally, a Bravia Chaimite V-200.

Another look of the armoured vehicles in the exposition at Coimbra.

Portugal operates HMMWV vehicles. The first vehicles - M1025 A2 version - were bought in 2000 for the peacekeaping mission in East Timor. In 2003, more vehicles - M1097 version - were recieved in order to transport and support the Firefinder system of the portuguese artillery. Currently, some vehicles of the first batch - with an armour kit M-PAV 2 from the israeli Plasan - are operating in Afghanistan.

A M60 A3 TTS main battle tank from the Brigada Mecanizada (portuguese Army's heavy brigade, called Brigada Mecanizada Independente at that time). Portugal recieved about one hundred of these in the 1990s - they replaced the M48 A5 and the remaining M47. The military parade, as in the majority of the last commemorations, did not envolved armoured vehicles.

Pedro Monteiro