Portugal Shows "Unofficial" Interest in F-35A

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Portugal Shows "Unofficial" Interest in F-35A
Even though it’s just a vision, the Portuguese Air Force is interested in F-35 fighter jets replacing the F-16.

Head of the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa) General João Cartaxo Alves recently stated at “Air Force 5.3” transformation plan that he is interested in the F-35, which will eventually replace the country’s F-16 fighter aircraft. The Portugues Air Force has 27 F-16 AM/BM in the inventory out of 45 delivered in the 1990s.

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However, this statement was clarified by the Portuguese government, which stated that the Portuguese Ministry of Defense had no plans to pursue the fifth-generation fighter aircraft made by Lockheed Martin.
“This is a vision for the future, so currently, there is no process for purchasing aircraft to replace the F-16,” said Portuguese Defense Ministry spokesperson Helena Carreiras, quoted by Breaking Defense.
Alves said earlier on Monday at a conference on military airlift and refuelling in Lisbon that the Portuguese Air Force appeared to see the F-35 as a suitable replacement for its F-16 fleet.
Regarding whether Lisbon is evaluating other aircraft for the job, Carreiras did not provide additional statements.
The question of the future of the F-16 AM/BM still in service has been raised since at least 2019. In October of that year, and when five of these planes had just been resold to Romania, the Ministry of Portuguese Defense had explained that the remaining aircraft would, in principle, be kept in service until “their replacement by 5th generation aircraft”, a decision to this effect to be taken “during the next decade”.
Meanwhile, there is no reference to F-35 acquisition or F-16 replacement efforts in Portugal’s Military Programming Law (LPM) proposal.
The latest LPM program allocates €5.5 billion (6 billion USD) in spending through 2034 and prioritizes eight significant acquisitions. The project includes an order for the Embraer KC-390 Millennium tanker transport aircraft.
Recently, Portugal's neighbour, Spain, gave up on the F-35A acquisition and headed towards Eurofighters.

 

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