Fig.2- Another problem in Portugal is the increase of light aircrafts in the narcotrafic. Since 2007 at least 30 of them crashed.
And the price of the mission ? The fuel used? The maintenance? But most important the efficacy? Several times ligh aircrafts escape to fighter and with 30 falls of small planes since 2007 it is a fact that the interception of this types by FAP and EAE (Exercito d'el ar espanhol) is far to be 100% of success. So perhaps there's a need for some modifications in this missions and in the type of airplanes to used when there´s situations were is not a fighter or a bomber to give the alert.
Fig.4 - FAP Alpha jet is an option against ligh aircraft. Armed with a Mauser 27mm guns pod his more than enought. But today the Alpha Jet is used only for instruction.
First the Fap models. The Alpha jet is a very interesting subsonic jet for this role. It is armed with a Gun Pod Mauser 27 mm, and for example some versions have the hypothesis of air to air missiles like the Matra Magic. But better is the Tb30 Epsilon from Socata mounted by OGMA (só OGMA have the certification to make the changes to put thins unarmed version of Epsilon armed). The Togo version can be armed with rockets, machine gun pods and bombs, and technically the french and portuguese versions can be changed to carry armament. With a toop speed of 378 km/h and a range about 1 300 km it is a cheap and reliable for a small nation like Portugal.
|Fig.5 - The standart fighter in FAP is the F16 MLU. In this image one of them intercept a Russian Tu95 in International Waters off Portugal. But a F16 is a bit too much for light aircraft. Some of them have escape to the portuguese fighters in a number of occasions. http://expresso.sapo.pt/actualidade/forca-aerea-interceta-aviao-nao-identificado-na-guarda=f771037|
A new plane? The best is Super Tucano produced by Embraer that have a factory in Évora, Portugal. A suberb CAS and a experient interceptor in Brasil against drug barons and their ligh planes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgicKNMFkfk It is also a fine trainer. The potential for Super Tucano in FAP is huge, but Portugal have less than 1,3% of Pib for the Arméd Forces. Helicopters like Alouette III are in service since the 60's and C130H are in a modernizations process for more 10 years in service. So, the best option is to used what Portugal have. Some of the 337 were put in fly conditions an offered to Mozanbique, so maybe it is possible to recovered 4 or 5 to make the interception of ligh planes. The Alphajet is another good solutions and has a jet and it can save the F16 for NATO type missions. But best is the armed Socata Tb30 Epsilon. Reliable, cheep and and a possible high efficiencly solution when other countries use up until helicopters. The only problem is lack of faith of some Generals, from Portugal to USA, in ligh armed aircraft in a type of missions, since cas to interception. But that, is a matter for another article.
|Fig.9 - A French Epsilon with rocket matra pods.|
|Fig. 10 - A technology demonstrador from the company. This Epsilon is armed with four Matra Rocket Pods|
|Fig. 11 - Schematics from a TB 30 armed with two machine gun pods|
|Fig.12 - Cockpit of a Tb30 Epsilon from FAP|
Fig.13 - FAP had the T38 Talon. This one is equiped with a weapons pod and it is from a light number modified in USAF, call the At38. At least one was armed like this in
Portugal. The type is no longer in use.