201st esquadra (FAP)

"Falcons (Falcões)" 

201 esq "Falcons (Falcões)" (FAP)
Version: F-16A/B block 20 MLU
Tailband: N/A
Motto: Guerra ou Paz tanto nos Faz (War or peace, it doesn't matter to us)
Badge: A diving falcon.

Sideways profile for esq 201 in 2007.

F-16 History

Until the early nineties, the Portuguese army in general was a depleted force with a lot of older equipment. This was also the case within the air force. Flying 3rd generation fighters like the G-91R4 and A-7 ordered in the sixties and early eighties (as second-hand aircraft from the USNavy). In early 1990 the Portuguese government decided they had to re-equip its rapidly aging aircraft with more modern equipment. The Peace Atlantis I deal was signed for the delivery of 20 F-16s.

Esq. 201 was activated to receive those aircraft. The first one arrived in February of 1994. The aircraft are the latest version of the block 15 that were build worldwide. They received the strengthened block 30 airframe together with all equipment of the ADF version, except for the AIFF blade antennae.

PoAF F-16A, #15102, returning home from a mission on 09/10/2003 [Photo by Jorge Ruivo]

Together with the acceptance of these new F-16s, Portugal joined the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF). This made them a part of the F-16 project group. Although it was decided that the F-16 would receive the MLU package, the squadron’s aircraft still have not received the upgrade at this time. Therefore its tasks are seriously hampered being limited to CAP and conventional attack.

Back in 1997, only 20 upgrade kits were ordered for an F-16 fleet counting 40 airframes. All MLU F-16s will be delivered to Esq. 301, while Esq. 201 will keep the non-upgraded vipers. Rumors have gone around that Portugal intends to sell its non-MLU F-16s. If and when this sale will go through is still highly uncertain. The impact it will have on the composition of the Portuguese F-16 squadrons is also still a vague mystery.

More recently it became apparant that the entire Portuguese fleet is upgraded with the MLU package. Therefore also esq 201 started receiving these upgraded jets in 2010.

PoAF F-16A block 15 #15101 is passing low over Monte Real AB to land there on November 6th, 2004. [Photo by Jorge Ruivo]

Aircraft Markings History

1994 - 2000

No squadron marking were applied during this time period. Only the Portuguese flag and the serial number were present on the tail.

2000 - 2007

The flag and serial number were kept unchanged. A gray falcon was added in the center of the tail.

2007 - present

The flag and serial number were executed in a toned-down format. A new falcon logo was designed and replaced the former one as well as the addition of a tailband.

Unit History

  • 1958: Activation of the squadron in Ota 'BA-2' (as Esq. 50)
  • 1958: F-86F 'Sabre' (as Esq. 51)
  • 1959: F-86F 'Sabre' (Monte Real 'BA-5')
  • 1965: G-91R4 (simultanious)
  • 1976: T-38A ‘Talon’ (simultanious)
  • 1978: F-86F 'Sabre' (re-designated Esq. 201)
  • 1980: Disbanded
  • 1994: Activation of the squadron in Monte Real ‘BA-5’
  • 1994: F-16A/B 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 2010: F-16AM/BM 'Fighting Falcon'


'Allied Force'
Aviano AB, Italy (March 23rd, 1999 to June 10th, 1999)
Operation 'Allied Force' was the codename for the almost three month long air strikes against Serbia. This was the first deployment of 3 PoAF F-16s. Since their fighters weren't converted to MLU standards, they mainly flew CAP missions during the entire conflict.
'Air Policing Baltic States'
Siauliai AB, Lithuania (November 1st, 2007 to December 15th, 2007)
This is the first deployment of the Portuguese Air Force to the three Baltic states (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). A six-week rotation will see the Portuguese F-16s patrol the skies over the Baltic States.
'Iceland Air Policing and Surveillance'
Keflavik AB, Iceland (August 7th, 2012 to September 20th, 2012)
For the first time the PoAF deploys to Iceland to perform the defense of the countries' airspace. This was a combined operation together with its sister squadron, the 301st.
'Air Policing Baltic States'
Siauliai AB, Lithuania (September 1st, 2014 to December 31st, 2014)
This marks the second deployment of the PoAF into the Baltics to take their NATO responsibility.

F-16 Airframe Inventory


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