Portuguese Naval Aviation

Portuguese Naval Aviation

The Portuguese Naval Aviation ( _pt. Aviação Naval Portuguesa) (more commonly known as Naval Aviation, although it received various official designations), was the air branch of the Portuguese Navy until 1952, and is today the command of the Navy responsible for the operation of the aircraft on board their ships. Founded in 1917, it was integrated with the Portuguese Air Force (PoAF) upon the creation of this new branch in 1952. The Naval Aviation was reborn in 1995, when the "Esquadrilha de Helicópteros da Marinha" (EHM) was formed.


The Naval Aviation origins begin in 1916, when two Portuguese Navy officers — Sacadura Cabral and António Caseiro — were sent to France to obtain their 'Wings'.

After their return, Sacadura Cabral was invited by the War Minister to designate an appropriate location for a future hydroplane Naval Air Station, which later became the Naval Air Station of Bom Sucesso ("Estação Aeronaval do Bom Sucesso"). Meanwhile, Navy personnel started receiving flight and maintenance instruction at the School of Military Aeronautic ("Escola de Aeronáutica Militar") and abroad, in France.

Since its official creation in 1917 the Portuguese Naval Aviation had the following designations:
* 1917—1918: Navy Aviation Service ("Serviço de Aviação da Armada");
* 1918—1931: Naval Aeronautics Services ("Serviços da Aeronáutica Naval");
* 1931—1952: Navy Air Forces ("Forças Aéreas da Armada").

From 1952 until 1958 the naval aviation's units formed inside the Portuguese Air Force a semi-independent branch designated Naval Air Forces ("Forças Aeronavais"). In 1958 this units were completely integrated with the Air Force, returning some of their pilots and technicians to the Navy.

Naval Air Arm

In 1992, the Portuguese Navy established a new aviation unit to operate the Navy's new Westland Super Lynx Mk.95 helicopters on board the new "Vasco da Gama" class frigates. The first two helicopters were delivered on July 29, 1993, and the pilots and maintenance crews started receiving training by the Royal Navy Air Arm and Westland Helicopters. In September 1995 the Navy's Helicopter Squadron (Portuguese: "Esquadrilha de Helicópteros da Marinha", EHM) was officially formed. This unit is currently based at the Montijo Air Base.

Aircraft inventory

The Naval Aviation uses the same designation system for aircraft as the PoAF.

* AgustaWestland Super Lynx Mk.95, 5 aircraft in service

Bases and units

Naval air bases

*Lisbon Naval Aviation Centre: created in 1917 as a seaplane base located at the Bom Sucesso Docks, being the first operational naval aviation base. In January 2, 1953, it was transferred to its new facilities in Montijo that, besides a seaplane base, had an airfield, becoming officially designated as "Sacadura Cabral" Naval Aviation Centre. It was renamed as Air Base No. 6 on June 12, 1954.
*Aveiro Naval Aviation Centre: was activated in 1918 on the Peninsula of São Jacinto, during World War I, as a base for anti-submarine seaplanes operated by the French Navy with the support of Portuguese land crews. In that same year it started to be operated by the Portuguese Navy. Later an airfield was constructed and in 1953 it was converted into a Portuguese Air Force base.
*Azores Naval Aviation Centre: seaplane base installed in 1918 in Horta during World War I. In 1919 it was transferred to Ponta Delgada, being deactivated in 1921. The centre was reactivated in 1941 during World War II being definitely deactivated in 1946.
*Macau Naval Aviation Centre: seaplane base installed at the Taipa island in 1927 to support the naval forces that combated the piracy on the seas of China. The centre was deactivated in 1933 but was reactivated in 1937, by occasion of the Chinese civil wars. In 1940 the centre was transferred to the new facilities constructed in the Exterior Port of Macau. In 1942 it was definitely deactivated.
*Algarve Naval Aviation Centre: seaplane base constructed in 1918, at the Culatra island, on the coast of Faro and Olhão, during World War I, to operate anti-submarine flying boats. Although its hangars and main infrastructures were built, it wasn't officially activated, serving later its facilities as support for a Navy's maneuvers and instruction zone.

Naval air units

*Military Aeronautics School: Portuguese Army unit created in 1914, at Vila Nova da Rainha to train initial crew members for the Portuguese military aviation. Initially, besides the aeronautic personnel of the Army, the Naval Aviation personnel was also trained there.
*"Almirante Gago Coutinho" Naval Aviation School : activated in 1928 to allow the complete formation of the Naval Aviation personnel , which instruction was, until then, partially done in foreign aviation schools. It executed its functions at the Aveiro Naval Aviation Centre facilities until 1952.
*B Squadron of the Navy Air Forces ("Esquadrilha B das Forças Aéreas da Armada"): land based naval attack bomber unit, dependent of the Lisbon Naval Aviation Centre, but based at the Lisbon Airport. Activated in 1942 and deactivated in 1949.

ee also

* Aerial warfare
* Anti-submarine warfare
* List of aircraft of the Portuguese Air Force
* Naval aviation
* Portuguese Air Force
* Portuguese Navy

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