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