Third Air Force Commander represents U.S. at Portugal’s Beja Airshow

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kayshel Mulligan
  • USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Paul D. Moga, Third Air Force commander, represented United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa as the highest-ranking U.S. Department of Defense official at the Beja International Airshow on June 2, 2024.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to Portugal for the invitation to participate in and attend the Beja Airshow,” said Moga. “This gesture is a powerful affirmation of the strong and enduring ties that our two nations share. The Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa) is a vital partner, and our teamwork enhances collective defense to ensure the success of the free world.”

This year’s airshow coincides with Portugal's 50th anniversary of democracy and its 75th anniversary as a founding NATO member. Moga said the significance of the U.S. maintaining a robust international partnership cannot be overstated in today’s complex geopolitical landscape. He added that the Portuguese Air Force’s invitation for the U.S. to participate in the Beja Airshow highlights the enduring alliance and collaboration between the two NATO allies.

As the ranking DOD representative at the airshow, Moga engaged with multiple key leaders, including the Portuguese Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. João Cartaxo Alves. Moga and Cartaxo Alves discussed interoperability and readiness as foundational for both partners and reinforced the importance of the Portuguese-American alliance.

Additional distinguished visitors in attendance included Portugal’s Secretary of State for Defense, Ana Isabel Xavier, and Parliamentary Defense Committee President, Pedro Pessanha.

The Beja airshow provided a venue to showcase examples of superior air power. The base’s commander, Colonel João Rosa, escorted Moga and the USAFE-AFARICA attendees on a flightline tour, which included a closer look at the Portuguese Air Force’s newly acquired KC-390 transport aircraft, a NATO-interoperable, multirole platform that gives Portugal aerial refueling capability.

The U.S.'s newest fifth-generation aircraft was also featured during the show. Two F-35A Lightning II’s from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, served as static displays. This marks the first time in history that U.S. F-35 lightning’s touched down in mainland Portugal.

“The opportunity to discuss the capabilities of the F-35 fighter jet with our Portuguese allies is invaluable,” said Moga. “It not only strengthens our operational interoperability but also deepens the personal and professional relationships that are crucial for our shared success. It symbolizes the commitment of both nations to maintaining a strong, interoperable, and collaborative defense posture.”

The F-35 Lightning II is known for its lethality and survivability through stealth, advanced and integrated avionics, and multi-role versatility. Representing U.S. airpower to the Portuguese public, these aircraft on the Beja tarmac demonstrated the technological prowess of the USAF and provided an opportunity for Portuguese pilots and engineers to engage directly with the latest in aviation advancements.

“Through continuous collaboration and a commitment to interoperability, we enhance our partnership,” said Moga. “Events like the Beja Airshow are a testament to this enduring partnership, showcasing our shared commitment to excellence in air power and our unwavering dedication to global peace and security.”

Please find imagery of the U.S. F-35 Lightning II arrival here and imagery of the visit here.

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