General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon for Portugal

Last revised September 26, 2015

The Forca Aerea Portuguesa under the FMS program Peace Atlantis I ordered 20 Fighting Falcons, comprising of 17 F-16As and 3 F-16Bs. These are all to be Block 15 OCU aircraft, with Pratt & Whitney F100 engines. They were to replace the Portuguese AF's aging LTV A-7 Corsair II attack aircraft. The first four aircraft were delivered to Portugal in July of 1994. The first two F-16As are serialed 16101 and 16102, and the first two F-16Bs are serialed 16118 and 16119.

The F-16s are assigned to Esquadra 201 "Falcones" based at BA5 Monte Real. They replaced the LTV A-7P Corsair II aircraft that were being used as stop-gap interceptors. The FAP F-16s have a primary air defense commitment, and are fitted with the HF radio and ID light that were carried by the USAF's ADF version. However, the AIFF equipment used by the USAF ADF F-16s is not fitted to the FAP F-16s. Nevertheless, the aircraft are Sparrow-capable. The initial group of Portuguese AF pilots received their training in Tucson, Arizona between January and June of 1994.

Portuguese F-16s participated in the war in Kosovo from 1998 to 1999. However, it soon became clear that the Portuguese F-16s were not up to the same level as most of the other modern fighters used by other NATO countries. In particular, they lacked modern armament and air-to-ground targeting systems.

In 1999, Portugal agreed to purchace 25 surplus USAF F-16A/B aircraft, along with 20 upgrade kits. Unter the program, termed Peace Atlantis II, 16 of the 21 F-16As and all four of the F-16Bs would under an upgrade to bring them up to the standards of the 20 new-build F-16A/Bs already in FAP serice, which have already gone through a mid-life update to bring them up to Block 15 OCU standards.

The Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) was performed in Portugal by the Air Force's workshops at Monte Real and by OGMA in Alverca. In 2001, employees of the LMTAS modified the first two aircraft in a Lead-the-Fleet program, with Portuguese technicians observing. The first F-16 AM was delivered on June 2003, and the PoAF personnel performed the modification of the remaining 18 aircraft. Currently the Portuguese F-16 fleet uses the AN/ALQ-131 ECM pods, that had originally been bought for the A-7P Corsair IIs, and the new Rafael LITENING II targeting pods. One aircraft has been preserved for public display and two aircraft have been lost in accidents.

In 2006 the Portuguese government put 12 of their F-16s up for sale. On September 25, 2012, Romania and Portugal started negotiations for the sale of 12 used F-16s from Portugal in a deal worth $600 million. Aircraft are to be delivered to Romania over the next five years. On October 11, 2013, the Romanian National Defense Ministry announced the signing of the contract for the purchase of 12 used F16. After the sale is complete, the Portuguese fleet will consist of 25 F-16 planes.

There are two Portuguese AF units operating the F-16: 201 Squadron "Falcoes" and 301 Squadron "Jaguares", both based at Monte Real

Serials of FAP F-16s:

93-465/467		Lockheed F-16A Block 15AT OCU Fighting Falcon
				C/n AA-1/AA-3.  For Portugal as 15101/15103
93-468/477		Lockheed F-16A Block 15AV OCU Fighting Falcon
				c/n AA-4/AA-13.  For Portugal as 15104/15113
93-478/481		Lockheed F-16A Block 15AW OCU Fighting Falcon
				c/n AA-14/AA-17.  For Portugal as 15114/15117
93-482/484		Lockheed F-16B Block 15AT OCU Fighting Falcon
				c/n AB-1/AB-3.  For Portugal as 15118/15120


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