201 Falcões: Defending The Skies Of Portugal For 65 years | Aviation


11- F-16AM 15103 with the painting on the tail commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 201 Falcões Squadron.

Squadron 201 Falcões of the Portuguese Air Force, based at Monte Real Air Base nº5, celebrates 65 years of operational activity.

The Falcões Squadron began its operational activity as 50 Falcões Squadron at Ota Air Base nº 2 on Feb. 4, 1958. The unit adopted the “War or Peace it doesn’t matter to us” motto and “Peregrine Falcon” symbol and was commanded by Pilot-Aviator Captain Gualdino Moura Pinto.

The new F-86F Sabre fighters began to arrive at the Ota Base at the end of August of the same year and remained in a provisional situation since their destination would be the Monte Real Air Base, which at that time was still being built and would be opened later, in 1959.

On Sept. 11, 1958, the squadron was renamed Squadron 51, due to the then revision of the Air Force Units numbering system and on Sept. 22, the first flight by a Portuguese pilot took place in F- 86F, the first aircraft that equipped the Falcões squadron. On Sept. 24, the same pilot passed the sound barrier for the first time in Portugal.

In 1961, the Air Force deployed eight F-86Fs from the Monte Real Base to Guinea-Bissau, as part of a mission dubbed “Operation Atlas”. Until 1964, operational missions followed one another, totaling 577, consolidating knowledge and mitigating the threat posed by the use of MiG-15s and MiG-17s by Guinea-Conakry against Portuguese Guinea.

In 1974, the restructuring that took place in the Air Force led to the creation of Operational Group 51 at Monte Real Air Base No. 5, giving rise, in 1978, to the renaming of the “Falcões” to “201 Squadron”.

The Falcons continued to operate the F-86F until 1980, with the last flight on June 30, totaling 60,000 flight hours, with this platform in peacetime and in the Overseas theater of operations,…

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