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Tatiana-foto-ver-5The Portuguese Armed Forces include only Portuguese citizens. They have a single organization for the entire national territory and owe obedience to the competent sovereign bodies. They are at the service of the Portuguese people and are strictly non-partisan. Civilian/political control is exercise by the Minister for National Defence (as at 1 July 2021 Dr João Gomes Cravinho) This paper is part 2 of a 4-part study by Tatiana de Moraes for the U K Defence Forum

The Armed Forces increased in numbers during the pandemic. According to the Ministry of Defense, there is greater attractiveness in the career, highlighting the Action Plan for the Professionalization of Military Service, so the military career is now more attractive.

The new military programming law for the period 2019-30 that was passed by Parliament will finance the acquisition of five KC-390 aircraft, six offshore patrol vessels, a refuelling tanker and a multipurpose logistics vessel. In addition there will be investment in cyber defence and combat systems soldiers.

Portugal hosts NATO's cybersecurity academy and the country also contributes to the European Union's military structures.

There is a close relationship with the former dependencies and with the USA, which operate from Lajes Air Base on Terceira Island in the Azores.

All three services have programmes to modernize and sustain existing equipment platforms. There is an active defense industry, mainly in shipbuilding, broader tasks of maintenance and manufacturing components and small and light weapons.

According to data from IISS- The International Institute for Strategic Studies in the annual assessment of global military capabilities and defence economics, this year, there are 27,250 uniformed active members, of which 13,700 are in the Army; 7,650 in the Navy; 5,900 in the Air Force; In addition there are 210,000 Army Reservists and 24,700 in the Republican National Guard.


The 13,700 personnel are organised in 5 territorial commands (2 military regions, 1 military district, 2 military zones). The military commander is the Chief of Staff of the Army: General José Nunes da Fonseca who has held the position since October 19, 2018.

The Army is organized by regions and Brigades, as well as the ZMA Zona Militar dos Açores-Support Unit of the Azores Military Zone in Ponta Delgada and Angra do Heroísmo o Garrison Regiment Nº. 1; ZMM Madeira Military Zone in Funchal a Support Unit of the Madeira Military Zone.

Other principle formations and bases are:

Intervention Brigade Infantry Regiment Nº. 19 in Chaves; Intervention Brigade Engineering Regiment Nº. 3 in Espinho; Rapid Reaction Brigade Infantry Regiment Nº. 10 in Aveiro; Intervention Brigade Infantry Regiment Nº. 14 in Viseu; Rapid Reaction Brigade Artillery Regiment Nº. 4 in Leiria; Land Forces Command Engineering Regulation Nº. 1 Praia do Ribatejo; Land Forces Command Emergency Military Support Regiment in Abrantes; Intervention Brigade Transmission Rules in Porto; Rapid Reaction Brigade Cavalry Regiment Nº. 3 in Estremoz; Intervention Brigade Artillery Regiment Nº. 5 in Vendas Novas; Rapid Reaction Brigade Infantry Regiment Nº. 1 in Beja.

Mechanized Brigade Recon Squad is based at Constance; Intervention Brigade BrigInt Support Unit at Coimbra; and Rapid Reaction Brigade Special Operations Troop Center at Lamego.

Army Forces by function:

Special forces: 1 special forces battalion.

Manouevre/recon: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance battalion.
BRIGMEC mechanized brigade (1 recon squad, 1 tank regiment, 1 mechanized infantry battalion, 1 artillery battalion, 1 air defense battery, 1 engine company, 1 signal company, 1 air battalion support).
BRIGINT intervention brigade (1 reconnaissance regiment, 2 mechanized infantry battalion, 1 artillery battalion, 1 air defense battery, 1 engineers company, 1 signals company, 1 support battalion.)
BRIGRR rapid reaction brigade (1 command battalion, 2 paratroop battalion, 1 artillery battalion, 1 air defense battery, 1 engine company, 1 signal company, 1 support battalion.)
Overseas: Azores infantry group (2 infantry battalion, 1 air defense battery); Madeira infantry group (1 infantry battalion, 1 air defense battery.)

Combat Support: 1 STA battery, 1 battalion of engineers, (1 construction company; 1 explosive ordnance disposal unit; 1 pontoon bridge company; 1 chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive company) and 1 electronic warfare company; 1 maritime patrol / military police battalio; 1 psyops unit; 1 civil-military cooperation company (joint); 1 signals battalion.

Combat Service Support: 1 maintenance company; 1 logistics company; 1 carrier; 1 medium / medical unit.
Air defense: 1 air defense battalion
Manoeuvre-Light: 3 (territorial) defense brigade (in mobilization).

Equipment by type

Armored combat vehicles: Main Battle Tank (MBT) 37 Leopard 2 A6; Recognition (RECCE) 16 VBL; Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) 30 Pandur II MK 30mm; Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) 406; Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) (T) 239: 176 M113A1; 14 M113A2; 49 M577A2 (command station); Armored Personnel Transporter (W) 167: 9 V-150 Commando; 12V-200 Chaimite; 146 Pandur II (incl variants).
Engineering and maintenance vehicles:
Engineer's Armored Vehicle (AEV) M728; Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) 13: 6 M88A1, 7 Pandur II ARV; Vehicle Launch Bridge (VLB) M48.
MSL Anti-Tank / Anti-Infrastructure: Self-propelled (SP) 26:17 M113 with TOW; 4 M901 with TRAILER; 5 Pandur II with trailer; Man Portable Anti-Tank System (MANPATS) Milan; TOW; Recoilless Launcher (RCL) 84mm Carl Gustaf; 106mm 45 M40A1; UNIMOG 1300/1750; IVECO 90.17 / 40.12 / 40.10; Toyota Land Cruiser.
Artillery: 320 Self-propelled (SP) 155mm 24: 6 M109A2; 18 M109A5; TOWED 62: 105mm 39: 17 L119 light gun; 21 M101A1; 155mm 24 M114A1; MOR 234: 81mm 143; Self-propelled (SP) 81mm 12: 2 M125A1; 10 M125A2; 107mm 11 M30; Self-propelled 107mm 18: 3 M106A1; 15M10612; 120mm 50 Cappella.
Air defense: Surface-to-air missile (SAM) Defense point 20+: 1M48A2 Chaparral; 19 M48A3 Chaparral; END-92 Stinger. 20mm 20Rh 202 towed cannons.
Light Weapon and Support Weapon: GLOCK 17; FN SCAR-L; FN SCAR-H; HK 416 A5; HK 417 A2; Carl-Gustaf M3; SLM Milan M3; HK GMG


The 7,600 Navy personnel include 960 Marines. The military commander is the Navy Chief of Staff: Admiral António Maria Mendes Calado, has held the functions of Navy Chief of Staff and National Maritime Authority since 1 March 2018.

The Navy contributes to the Immediate Reaction Force with surface ships, marine forces and divers detachments.

Main bases To support docking and maintenance of ships, as well as to rest the crews, the Navy has a Naval Base in Lisbon; The Marine Corps Base is located in the Alfeite Military Perimeter in the municipality of Almada, next to the Lisbon Naval Base, on the south bank of the Tagus River and there are Naval Support Points (PAN) in Leixões, Tróia and Portimão.

Equipment by type

Submarines : Two conventionally powered attack submarines (SSK) Tridente class (GER Type-214) (with independent air propulsion) with 8 533 mm TT with UGM-84L Harpoon Block II heavy Black Shark anti-ship / torpedo missiles.
Main Surface Fighters Frigates: Five frigates with surface-to-surface missile with hangar and surface-to-air missile (FFGHM)
2 Bartolomeu Dias class with 2 Quadruple Inchr with RGM-84C Harpoon Block 1B anti-ship missile, 1 vertical launch system MK 48 mod 1 16 cells with surface-to-air missile RIM-7M Sea Sparrow, 2 324mm SVTT MK 32 dual anti-submarine torpedo tube with Mk 46 light torpedo, 1 goalkeeper approach weapon system, 1 76mm cannon (capacity for1 Lynx Mk95 (Super Lynx) helicopter
3 Vasco da Gama class have 2 quadruple Inchr with RGM-84C Harpoon Block 1B anti-ship missiles, 1 octuple Mk 29 system with RIM-7M Sea Sparrow míssiles, 2 triple 324 mm SVTT Mk 32 anti-submarine/torpedo with Mk 46 light torpedo; close-in 1 Mk 15 Phalanx Block 1B, 1 100 mm cannon; (capacity for 2 Lynx Mk 95 (Super Lynx) helicopters.
Coastal Combatants 21 in total:
Two corvettes FS2: Baptista de Andrade with 1 cannon of 100mm, 1 helicopter landing platform; João Coutinho with 76mm cannon, 1 helicopter landing platform.
Nineteen peace support operations or offshore patrol vessel (PSO) ; 4 Viana do Castelo class with 1 helicopter landing platform; 1 Cacine class; 4 Tejo class (ex-DNK Flyvisken); Patrol boat with riverside SAM (PBR) 10: 5 Argos class; 4 Centauro class; 1 River Minho class.

Logistics and Support : Four Research vessels (AGS): 2 Dom Carlos class (one formerly US Stalwart), 2 Andromeda Class; One Fleet refueling oiler with RAS capacity light (AOR-L) Berrio class (former UK Rover) with 1 helicopter landing platform (for medium helicopters); Five sail training boats (AXS) : Sagres, Creoula, Polar, Belatrix, Zarco.


Forces by function

Special forces: 1 Detachment of Special Forces.
Manoeuvre-Light: 1 Landing Tank Light Infantry Battalion.
Combat Support: 1 mortar company; 1 maritime patrol ; military police.

Equipment by type

Anti-Tank / Anti-Infrastructure, Missile Manpats Milan; TOW, 84 mm recoilless launcher Carl Gustaf. 30+ artillery mortar: 81 mm some; 120mm 30.

Naval Aviation by type

Anti-Submarine Helicopter Warfare 5 Lynx Mk95 (Super Lynx).


There are 5,900 personnel. The military commander is the Chief of Staff of the Air Force: General Pilot Aviator Joaquim Manuel Nunes Borrego took office on February 26, 2019.

Portugal'sAir Command and Control System (SICCAP) is a fundamental part of the Integrated National Air Defense System. Together with air assets - airplanes and helicopters - the SICCAP is the system that makes it possible to conduct air control, surveillance and air interception operations. Through a set of automatic data processing systems, centralized in Monsanto (Lisbon), at the Reporting and Control Center (CRC), all air activity that takes place within Portuguese airspace is continuously monitored and supervised, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

This operations centre is connected to the radar stations in Pilar, Montejunto, Fóia and Pico do Areeiro Stations, and in the future to other stations in the Azores where the air defense radars are located. This entire system is an integral part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (NATINAMDS), NATO's integrated air and missile defense system, enabling the sharing of information between the various Command and Control centres.

Locations and capabilities :

MANOUEVERE AERODROME Nº. 1 (AM1) is located in Maceda Ovar;
TRANSIT AERODROME Nº. 1 (TA1); Manoeuvre Aerodrome nº 3 that succeeded the former NATO infrastructure;
AIR BASE Nº. 1 (BA1) is located at Granja do Marquês, near the Sintra mountains;
AIR BASE Nº. 4 (BA4) Slabs;
AIR BASE Nº. 5 (BA5) Leiria;
AIR BASE Nº. 6 (BA6)Montijo;
AIR BASE Nº. 11 (BA11) is located near the city of Beja;
General Deposit Of Air Force Material; Air Force Science Training Center; Air Force Survival Training Center; Air Force Military And Technical Training Center in Alverca; Campo de Tiro is located in the basin of the Tagus and Sado rivers; Radar Stations and Flight Squadrons.

Forces by function

Fighter / Land Attack: 2 squadrons with F-16 A/B Fighting Falcons.
Maritime Patrol: 1 squadron with P-3C Orion intelligence. surveillance and reconnaissance/ transport; 1 squadron with C295M. Combat Search and Rescue: 1 squadron of Augusta Westland EH-101 Merlin helicopters.
Transport: 1 squadron with C-130H / C-130H-30 Hercules; 1 squadron of Dassault Falcon 50.
Training: 1 squad with AW119 Koala helicopters; 1 squad with TB-30 Epsilon.

Equipment by type

Fixed wing : 35 aircraft with combat capability including 26 F-16AM Fighting Falcon; 4 F-16BM Fighting Falcon;
Anti-Submarine Warfare 5 P-3C Orion;
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance: 7: 5 C295M (maritime surveillance), 2 C295M (photo recce);
Transport 13: Medium: 2 C-130H Hercules; 3 C-130H-30 Hercules (transport / search and rescue); Light 5 C295M; 3 Falcon 50 passenger / passenger transport aircraft (transport / VIP); Training 16 TB-30 Epsilon.
Helicopters: Twelve Medium AW101 Merlin (6 search and rescue, 4 combat search and rescue, 2 fishing protection); Five Light AW119 Koala.
Air-launched munitions: infrared air-to-air missile AIM-9L / I Sidewinder; homing active radar AIM-120C AMRAAM; AGM-65A Maverick air-to-surface missile; AGM-84A Harpoon anti-ship missile. GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II Laser Guided, GPS-guided Inertial Navigation System, JDAM GBU-31.


It has 24,700 personnel

Equipment by type

Patrol and coastal combatants: 32; Fast 12 Patrol Boat; Patrol Boat 20. Helicopters multifunctional helicopters 7 SA315 Mud.

See Parts 3 and 4 for information about the relationship between the Armed Forces and other security institutions, and deployments in support of international bodies


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