Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blade runners over the sea

The Esquadrilha de Helicópteros da Marinha (EHM, Navy Helicopter Squadron), created in 1993, operates the Super Lynx fleet of the Portuguese Navy. These helicopters are used with the Vasco da Gama class frigates (Meko 200PN type). Although it is a young unit, the EHM has already in her curriculum vitae real operations, like the Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) in Guinea-Bissau in 1998.

I have flew with them in last February as part of a report for the portuguese magazine "Vega" (you can check their website here).

Pedro Monteiro

The portuguese F-16 fleet

Monte Real is the home of the portuguese F-16 fleet. The F-16 OCU fleet, received in 1994, is operated by the 201 Squadron "Falcões". The other unit is the 301 Squadron "Jaguares", which operates the modern F-16 MLU fleet.
Both units are often present in national and international military exercises. More recently, they took part in the NATO Air Defense Mission "Baltics Air Policing 07 (November-December 2007) 3000 kilometers away from Monte Real. There, they have assured the vigilance, control and reaction to a potential hostile act to the sovereignty of the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), inclunding with aicrafts in Quick Reaction Alert (QRA).

A helmet of a special very special "pilot" of the Portuguese Air Force. In fact, this helmet was offered to the President of the Republic during his visit to Monte Real [click to enlarge].

A F-16B OCU from the 201 Sqn. ready for another mission with the RNLAF fighters [click to enlarge].

The impressive take-off of a RNLAF F-16MLU fighter with full after-burner. During our visit, the RNLAF squadrons 322 and 323 were at Monte Real training with the portuguese Vipers [click to enlarge].

I have visited the two squadrons with Juan Carlos Pando (you can check his website here) last February as part of an article for the magazine Fuerzas Militares del Mundo.

Pedro Monteiro

EH-101 Merlin

A new photo which I have taken during my visit to the 751 Sqn., last November (please, check the previous report).

Pedro Monteiro

Chaimite Project: A visit to Escola Prática de Cavalaria

On the first week of February, I have visited the Escola Prática de Cavalaria (EPC, Practical School of Cavalry) as part of the research which I am doing about the Chaimite and the Bravia-VM (please, check my last post). More recently, as part of the new organization of the Portuguese Army, the EPC has been moved from Santarém to Abrantes, where it was located a former infantry regiment.

Besides, this was a good opportunity to photograph some of the armoured vehicles which have served in the portuguese Cavalry (and that are preserved in Abrantes), as well as the present armoured fleet. In fact, the EPC has already in service the new Pandur II 8x8 armoured vehicle.

One of the new Pandur II 8x8 received by the EPC in the right side of the photo. In the left side, we can see a Chaimite V-600 4x4 armoured vehicle [click to enlarge].

The french-built Panhard AML was a light armoured vehicle used in the Colonial War (1961-1974) in missions such as scort and reconnaissance. Some of the vehicles were upgraded in the 1980s with a new engine and systems and, finally, redraw from service in 2001-2002 [click to enlarge].

An impressive M48 A5 Patton main battle tank in the main gate of the EPC. It was used by the 1ª Brigada Mista Independente, now known as Brigada Mecanizada (mechanized infantary). They were replaced by the M60 A3 TTS [click to enlarge].

Though Portugal does not use horse cavalry any longer, the Portuguese Army still has the tradition of learning how to ride a horse [click to enlarge].

Pedro Monteiro