A NATO member, Portugal can join the other countries in the military alliance and replace its F-16AM/BM fighters with the Lockheed Martin F-35A.
The 5th generation fighter has been the choice of several European nations in recent years, due to its advanced technology and open architecture, which allows for easy upgrades.
On November 27, General João Guilherme Rosado Cartaxo Alves, chief of staff of the Portuguese Air Force (FAP) stated during a conference that the F-35 is the preferred choice.
The forecast, however, is that the replacement for the F-16 will only begin to be received in the 2030s. The current fleet of Fighting Falcon fighters, with 25 aircraft, received updates to extend operational capacity until the end of the decade.
Despite this, the aircraft are expected to become obsolete in the coming years, which makes the process of selecting a new fighter urgent. Cartaxo Alves, however, stated that there is no movement in this direction at the moment.
Portugal formulated a proposal to modernize the armed forces this year, but there is no mention of a new fighter.
To acquire the F-35s, the country will have to request approval from the United States government, which uses the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program to supply sensitive weapons to allies.
Currently, the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Poland and Switzerland operate or have ordered the F-35 in Europe. Furthermore, Romania is about to conclude a contract with Lockheed Martin.