Saturday, April 13

Defense buys 20 latest-generation Eurofighter fighter-bombers


Eurofighter-Falcon. / Airbus

The aircraft, acquired for 2,000 million euros from Airbus Defense, will replace the F-18 that operate from the Gando Air Force Base, in Gran Canaria

J. Luis Alvarez

Spain will have 20 new state-of-the-art Eurofighter fighters thanks to the contract signed this Thursday between the Ministry of Defense and NATO’s Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (Netma). The Halcón project, approved on December 14 by the Council of Ministers, involves the disbursement of 2,043 million euros to provide the Air Force with these modern combat aircraft.

The 20 new Eurofighters are intended to replace the F-18s operated by the 46th Wing of the Gando Base, in Gran Canaria. Of these, 16 of the new fighters will be single-seater and four two-seater.

The Halcón project will allow the Spanish Eurofighter fleet to be increased to 90 aircraft. In any case, it is expected that the first aircraft subject to the operation will be delivered to the Air Force from 2026.

Along with the aircraft, spare engines, a flight simulator and the necessary support equipment for the deployment of the fighters have also been acquired. These Eurofighters are characterized in that they are equipped with electronic scanning radar (E-Scan).

Sources close to the Ministry of Defense highlighted the importance of the operation, not only because it improves the deterrence and defense capabilities of the territory, but also because it represents an important boost for the national industry. And it is that the Spanish Eurofighter is assembled, tested and delivered at the Airbus facilities in Getafe (Spain), so its industrial footprint translates into more than 20,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs in Spain.

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The main national defense and technology companies participate in the manufacturing process. Work is currently being done in coordination with the Air Force’s Armament and Experimentation Logistics Center (CLAEX) on various modifications of the aircraft, such as the new CM02+ software implementation for the batch of devices that assemble Tranche 1 – used by the first 17 aircraft that were delivered. This operating system represents a great tactical improvement in the self-designation capacity of air-to-surface weapons, through the integration of the Litening-III designation pod. In addition, new air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities are integrated, as well as encrypted communications.

EF-2000 Program

The Eurofighter Typhoon was the aircraft of choice in the late 1990s within the EF-2000 programme. Until then, the F-18 Hornet acquired from the United States was the star of the Air Force. This program was intended to provide the Spanish Armed Forces with an aircraft with great offensive/defensive power and, in turn, its manufacture would have an important weight in national and European industry, compared to the United States.

In this way, Spain has participated since 1985 in the development of this modern fighter-bomber together with Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. To date, the Eurofighter program has registered 681 orders from nine nations around the world.

The first Air Force Eurofighters -called C-16- entered service in 2003. Since then they have been operating in the 11th Wing of the Morón Base (Seville) and the 14th Wing of the Los LLanos Base (Albacete). In these 19 years, the devices, in addition to the surveillance of Spanish territory, have participated in different NATO missions, including the air police in the Baltic.

The Eurofighter has a radius of action of 3,500 kilometers; its flight ceiling is 19,812 meters and its maximum speed is 2.0 Mach. The aircraft features a 27mm Mauser cannon and can be armed with AMRAAM, AIM-9L, Meteor, IRIS-T and Guided Bombs (JDAM, Paveway II) missiles.


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