F-35A Lightning II

Portugal confirms transition from F-16 to F-35 fighters

A NATO member country has not yet made an official request to acquire a Lockheed Martin aircraft, but an interview with the Air Force Chief of Staff paves the way towards the 5th generation jet

The Portuguese Air Force is “transitioning” from the F-16 to the F-35 fighters, Lockheed Martin’s 5th generation aircraft. The statement came from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General João Cartaxo Alves, in an interview with Diário de Notícias.

A member of NATO, Portugal had already anticipated plans to replace its old F-16s with the stealth fighter.

Many other European countries have made this choice, based on the technological advancement of the aircraft and its modularity, which allows for more constant and rapid updates.

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“It’s something that’s happening [transition from the F-16 to the F-35], but it’s not done in one day. That process has already started. We had a workshop here with Lockheed and the US Air Force to help us We also train what this leap into the fifth generation is about,” said Cartaxo Alves.

The Portuguese Air Force ordered 40 F-16 fighters, but transferred 12 of them to Romania. The remaining 28 jets, however, need updates to remain active, which the Commander recognized as inevitable.

Portuguese Air Force F-16A (Rob Schleiffert)

“We have to replace them [F-16], because even if this decision is made now, the first aircraft [F-35] will only arrive in seven years,” he acknowledged.

“Now, it is clear that there are components and equipment of the F-16 that will have to continue to be improved over time”, added the Commander.

“Standard fighter” from Europe

Despite local efforts, the F-35 has become the most numerous advanced fighter in Europe. It already flies in countries such as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Denmark, and has been selected by Finland, Germany, Poland and Switzerland.

There are also ongoing negotiations with Romania, Greece and the Czech Republic.


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