Portuguese F-16AM Fighting Falcons, C-295 VIMAR Among The Highlights Of Lajes Spotters Day 2021

Lajes Spotter Day
The F-16AM Special Tail that celebrates the 60th anniversary of Esq. 201. (All images: APS-Associação Portugal Spotters).

Here are the most interesting aircraft taking part in Lajes Spotters Day, in the Azores.

On Jun. 12, 2021, Portuguese Air Force Base Aérea N º4 at Lajes, Azores, hosted the Lajes Spotters Day 2021 to celebrate the anniversary date of the base and to showcase the most recent Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa) F-16AM deployment.

Five PoAF F-16AM Fighting Falcon jets, belonging to Esq. 201, from Monte Real airbase deployed to Lajes via Porto Santo: the aircraft took part in the celebration of Portugal’s National Day, on June 10th, whose celebrations were hosted at Funchal, in Madeira archipelago. The Portuguese fighters performed overhead Funchal, before leaving for the strategic base, located midway between North America and Europe, in the north Atlantic Ocean, some 1,600 km west of mainland Portugal.

The 5x F-16AM involved in the deployment and Lajes Spotters Day were Peace Atlantis I and II FMS (Foreign Military Sales) jets: #15103, the Esq. 201 “Falcões” flagship a/c, featuring a special tail “hawk head” colour scheme over the tail, introduced in 2018, to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Squadron.; #15108 and #15114 and Peace Atlantis II FMS: #15131 and #15142.

Lajes Spotter Day
One of the F-16s of the Portuguese Air Force taking off from Lajes AB.

With deliveries beginning in 1994, Portugal procured a total of 45 F-16A/B Block 15 jets. Under Peace Atlantis I, an agreement signed in 1990, partly in return for the use of Lajes Air Base by the U.S. forces, Portugal received the first 20 Block 15OCU aircraft (17 single seaters and 3 two-seaters) with engines and initial logistic support to equip a squadron (Esq. 201 at Monte Real). The subsequent 25 ex-USAF Block 15 were procured under Peace Atlantis II in 1999.

Portuguese Viper taxiing.

During the Lajes Spotters Day, 4x F-16AM took off to carry out some exercises inside the restricted airspace to the northwest of Lajes while some other interesting traffic could be observed by the photographers. In particular, a PoAF C-295 #16708 in VIMAR (maritime surveillance) configuration; a CC-295 Kingfisher #295507, purchased under the FWSAR – Fixed Wing Search and Rescue programme and on delivery to the Royal Canadian Air Force; and a Spanish Air Force T.18-5 Dassault Falcon 900B arrived from the Dominican Republic for a short refuelling before setting off bound for Madrid. This a/c is noteworthy in that, besides sporting the latest “Reino de Espana” titles, now displays a new not before seen squadron code as “45-05”, whereas it was before “45-44”.

Lajes Spotter Day
The Portuguese C-295 16708 in VIMAR configuration.
Lajes Spotter Day
The RCAF CC-295W Kingfisher on delivery via St. John’s International Airport, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Lajes Spotter Day
Spanish Air Force T.18-5 Dassault Falcon 900B with the new code 45-05.
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.