The European Defence Agency has chosen Portugal to host the future Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC).
At a press conference in Lisbon yesterday (Tuesday), the agency’s chief executive Jorge Domeq said Portugal’s candidacy for the centre was “the best and most complete option”.
Speaking alongside Domeq, Portugal’s defence minister João Gomes Cravinho said the MHTC would open at Sintra airbase in 2021, implying a Portuguese investment of four million euros.
He described the project as of “great value to Sintra, the Portuguese Air Force and our country” as well as for the training of pilots and helicopter crew of other EU member states.
Construction will start “as soon as possible”, the minister added, suggesting existing buildings will be used at the outset, with new infrastructures following the process of tenders, etc.
What Gomes Cravinho did stress, says TVI24, was that the Portuguese government “will now begin the process of investment in Sintra airbase”.
This also means that the Air Force Academy will be sited at the base.
Citing Lusa news agency, TVI said the training centre will be used by “at least 17 European countries”: listing Germany, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Croatia, Slovenia, Spain, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Czech Republic, UK, Sweden, Serbia, Switzerland and the Ukraine.
The plan is to train for “scenes of irregular conflict, urban warfare, and search and rescue”.
Gomes Cravinho explained the centre “will bring together work that today is done in a dispersed form.
“On the one hand, we had an important centre in the United Kingdom”, he said, “which is in the process of leaving the EU and therefore it was important to find a new centre for what is in the UK”.