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First Unmanned Flight Between Beja and Porto Santo

The Portuguese Armed Forces, in collaboration with UAVision, conducted a night test flight on the 7th/8th of October to test their Unmanned Aerial System (SANT) OGASSA 42V(E) – “TITAN40” – with enhanced autonomy, between Air Base No. 11, located in Beja, and Porto Santo Airport, travelling a distance of about 508 nautical miles (940 km).

The unmanned aircraft took off from Beja at around midnight and landed at Porto Santo Airport at 08:30. Part of the flights’ criteria was to assess the autonomy of the SANT, the capacity of satellite communications between ground stations and the aircraft, and the long-distance command and control system.

This flight also allowed for the identification of requirements that enable the construction of long-range maritime surveillance capacity, with a view to the use of this type of system in surveillance missions in the Exclusive Economic Zone, which covers the Continent, Azores, and Madeira. It was also possible to carry out technical evaluations, essential for the consideration of future acquisitions of this type of system.

Two dedicated crews, one based in Beja and the other in Porto Santo, composed of 5 members from the Navy, Army, and Air Force, were used to operate and monitor the flight from Beja to Porto Santo. In addition, the mission was also monitored by the Joint Command for Military Operations (CCOM) in Oeiras.

SANT has been employed by the Portuguese Armed Forces in various missions both land and sea.  More recently, it has been used to assist in the prevention of rural fires and provide aerial support to those working on the ground.  Up until the 7th of October this year, SANT has carried out over 1100 hours of flight time during its support to the Integrated Management System of Rural Fires 2022, covering an area nine times the size of the national territory.

Finally, this year is the centenary of the Crossing of the South Atlantic by Portuguese naval airmen Almirante Gago Coutinho and Comandante Sacadura Cabral.  This historic flight is regarded as one of the greatest achievements in Portuguese Air Naval history.

Samantha Gannon

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Photo: JM

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