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Unidade de Aviação Ligeira do Exército
Army Light Aviation Unit
Active June 11, 2000 — current
Country Portugal
Branch Army
Type Military aviation
Role Tactical Air Transport, Reconnaissance, Close Air Support
Part of Portuguese Army

The Army Light Aviation Unit (Portuguese language: Unidade de Aviação Ligeira do Exército , UALE), initially known as Army Light Aviation Group (Portuguese language: Grupo de Aviação Ligeira do Exército , GALE), is the Portuguese Army's unit dedicated to missions of light aviation, being integrated in the Army Forces System, under the operational command of the Ground Forces Operational Command (Portuguese language: Comando Operacional das Forças Terrestres ).

The unit was originally intended to be equipped with nine Eurocopter EC635 T1 in the light utility, anti-tank and reconnaissance role, and with ten NHI NH90 TTH in the medium transport role. However, the EC635 program was cancelled in 2002 with the lack of a certification to fire HOT 2 anti-tank missiles and the delivery of the helicopters being cited as the official reason.[1][2] In 2004, the Portuguese government prepared to open a new competition for the acquisition of light helicopters for both the UALE and the Portuguese Air Force, to replace the Alouette III, but the competition was eventually cancelled.[1][2]

The training of unit's pilots has been done in Alouette III of the Portuguese Air Force and pilots have also undergone training in Eurocopter EC 135 in the Spanish Army Airmobile Force.[3] Under an agreement Army pilots also fly the Kamov Ka-32 helicopters under EMA, a company owned by the Portuguese government, in fire-fighting and other public interest missions.[4][5][6]

In June 2012, the Portuguese government officially announced that it would cancel the order of all 10 NHI NH90 due to budget cuts,[7] thus compromising the future of the UALE. Portugal is now the only NATO member whose army has no helicopters.[8][9]

Mission[edit | edit source]

  • Organize, train and maintain its operational forces;
  • Support the Ground Forces with its organic air component;
  • Operate and maintain the infrastructures of the Tancos Military Airfield, thus guaranteeing the aeronautic activity of the unit;
  • Fulfil other missions that are committed to it according to the current legislation.

Aircraft inventory[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Ministério da Defesa prepara abertura concurso hélis Força Aérea e UALE" (in Portuguese). Agência LUSA. RTP1. http://www.rtp.pt/noticias/?article=72263&layout=121&visual=49&tm=6&. 
  2. "A substituição do ALOUETTE-III" (in Portuguese). Área Militar. http://www.areamilitar.net/imprensa/imprensa.aspx?nrnot=101. 
  3. "Pilotos voam em Espanha por falta de helicópteros" (in Portuguese). Jornal de Notícias. http://www.jn.pt/PaginaInicial/Sociedade/Interior.aspx?content_id=1062199. 
  4. "Exército cede pilotos para combater fogos" (in Portuguese). Jornal de Notícias. http://www.jn.pt/paginainicial/interior.aspx?content_id=695480. 
  5. "Pilotos dos helicópteros vão para Espanha e Itália" (in Portuguese). Diário de Notícias. http://www.dn.pt/inicio/interior.aspx?content_id=656440. 
  6. "Celebração de protocolo entre o Exército e a Empresa de Meios Aéreos - EMA, S.A." (in Portuguese). Portuguese Army. http://www.exercito.pt/Noticias/Paginas/CELEBRA%C3%87%C3%83ODEPROTOCOLOENTREOEX%C3%89RCITOEAEMPRESADEMEIOSA%C3%89REOS-EMA,SA.aspx. 
  7. "Governo abandona programa de helicópteros para o Exército" (in Portuguese). RTP Notícias. RTP. 2012-06-30. http://www.rtp.pt/noticias/index.php?article=566755&tm=8&layout=122&visual=61. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  8. "Exército perde helicópteros" (in Portuguese). Jornal Expresso. Jornal Expresso. http://expresso.sapo.pt/exercito-perde-helicopteros=f736590. 
  9. "Portugal cancela NH-90" (in Portuguese). Área Militar. http://www.areamilitar.net/noticias/noticias.aspx?nrnot=1208. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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