Portuguese Air Force (PoAF)

Portuguese Air Force (PoAF)


The history of Portuguese military aviation dates back to 1911, when a Balloon Company was founded as part of the Army Telegraphic Service and received a handful of aircraft. During World War I in the Western Front, while the Portuguese Army had no aircraft, Portuguese airmen flew in British and French squadrons. In Mozambique, in the operations against German Eastern Africa, the Portuguese forces included an aviation squadron, one of the first uses of combat aircraft in Africa.

In 1914 the Military Aeronautic Service (Serviço Aeronáutico Militar) and the Military School of Aeronautic (Escola Militar de Aeronáutica, EMA) are founded, but it is in 1918 that these services are reorganised and renamed to 'Military Aviation Service' and are made directly dependent of the Ministry of War. The OGMA workshops at Alverca, which still exists under this name, and the first operational squadrons are founded that same year.

In 1924 the aviation of the army becomes a full arm of service, in equality with the infantry or the artillery. In 1937, it suffers a major reorganization, being endowed with an autonomous general command, practically becoming independent, although for administrative purposes it still stays integrated in the Army Ministry.

In 1917 the Navy Aviation Service and School is created, as well the first naval aviation base, the Maritime Aviation Centre of Bom Sucesso, in Lisbon. The Portuguese Navy's aviation service is later renamed two more times — in 1918 to Aeronautical Naval Services (Serviços da Aeronáutica Naval), and once again in 1931 to Navy Air Forces (Forças Aéreas da Armada).

Early involvement by the Portuguese military aviation included the Revolution in 1926, the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, and World War II, in which Portugal was not directly involved but during which various allied aircraft entering Portuguese airspace were commandeered. Portugal later joined NATO in 1949.

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023