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Military Capabilities

Portugal advances its soldier modernisation programme

22 February 2019

The Portuguese Army is implementing an ambitious effort worth EUR90 million (USD102 million) to equip dismounted soldiers with new equipment meant to boost their firepower, mobility, protection, and command and control.

The new systems, developed under the Sistemas de Combate do Soldado (SCS) programme, are meant to replace legacy gear while adding new capabilities, Lieutenant Colonel Simão Sousa, a member of the Army High-Staff, told Jane's .Portuguese troops deployed to Operation 'Inherent Resolve' in Iraq have been testing the survivability items in MultiCam-style camouflage pattern since late 2018. (Portuguese Army)Portuguese troops deployed to Operation 'Inherent Resolve' in Iraq have been testing the survivability items in MultiCam-style camouflage pattern since late 2018. (Portuguese Army)

To implement SCS, the army established a 'lethality' project that comprises light armament, and sensors and sighting auxiliaries subprojects; a C4I project; and a survivability project that is divided into clothing and loading systems, and protection equipment subprojects.

Full suites of equipment are to be fielded to the 1st and 2nd Parachute Infantry Battalion, Commandos Regiment; 1st and 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion (Wheeled); and 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion (Tracked). Remaining frontline personnel will have lethality and survivability components only. Delivery of first equipment is scheduled for later this year.

For the light armament effort, about EUR42.8 million worth of gear is in a final phase of acquisition through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). This includes 11,000 5.56 mm assault rifles, of which 1,700 come with 40 mm grenade launcher; 300 7.62 mm assault rifles; 450 7.62 mm sniper rifles; 850 5.56 mm machine guns; 320 7.62 mm machine guns; 380 12-gage shotguns; and 3,400 detachable optics.

The sensors and sighting auxiliaries subproject is worth EUR24.8 million and calls for 1,485 aiming and illuminating systems, 1,485 thermal imaging monoculars, 332 weapon thermal sights, 1,485 IFF beacons, 214 target locators, and 1,485 flashlights.

The C4I the project adds a battle management system (BMS) by Critical Software, and allocates EUR10.5 million for data and energy integrator systems, 292 handheld radios, 1,575 personal role radios, rugged tablets, headsets, batteries, and battery chargers.

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