Spain orders 20 Eurofighters to modernise its combat aircraft fleet

Spain orders Eurofighters Halcon
Eurofighter Typhoon with special tail related to Halcon programme. Under the Halcon, Spain recently procured 20 Eurofighters.

The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) has signed a landmark contract for the acquisition of 20 latest generation Eurofighter jets. Known as the Halcon programme, the order will cover the delivery of a fleet of E-Scan (Electronically Scanned) radar equipped fighter aircraft consisting of 16 single-seaters and 4 twin-seaters to replace the F-18 fleet operated by the Spanish Air Force on the Canary Islands.

This contract will see the Spanish Eurofighter fleet grow to 90 aircraft. With the first delivery due in 2026, these new aircraft will enhance and position the Spanish Air Force fighter fleet among its NATO allies with the most modern fighter jet developed in Europe, as well as securing industrial activity through to 2030.

The aircraft, as with those in the German Quadriga programme signed in 2020, will also be equipped with future-proofed hardware, software, and an even broader multi-role capability for engaging air and ground targets.

The Halcón contract was signed at a special ceremony at ILA by Miguel Ángel Martín Pérez, General Manager NETMA; Carlo Mancusi, Chief Executive Officer, Eurofighter GmbH; and Gerhard Baehr, CEO Eurojet Turbo GmbH. The signing was attended by senior military, industry, and diplomatic dignitaries from the Eurofighter core nations.

“Today’s announcement is great news for many reasons, particularly though because it signals the continued commitment to the future of Eurofighter Typhoon from one of the four core partner nations.

The order also highlights the current and future strength of the programme – which will ensure Eurofighter continues as the backbone of European air defence for many years to come – as well as representing welcome support for the European aerospace industry,” Carlo Mancusi said.

The acquisition, valued at € 2.043 billion, was approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers on 14 December 2021 and includes the aircraft, engines, a simulator and the necessary support services.

In service with Spain since 2003, the country’s air force operates the Eurofighter from the air bases of Morón (11th Wing) and Albacete (14th Wing), securing Spain’s territory and playing a key role at the heart of NATO in different Air Policing missions in the Baltics and more recently the Black Sea. With the arrival of these new aircraft, Spain will also equip a third base with Eurofighter jets, namely Gando on the Canary Islands, which is home to the 46th Wing.

The Spanish Eurofighter is assembled, tested and delivered at the Airbus Getafe site (Spain). Airbus has also been working at Getafe in coordination with the Armament and Experimental Logistics Centre (CLAEX) of the Spanish Air Force to make various modifications such as the implementation of the new CM02+ software package for the Tranche 1 Eurofighters. A major tactical improvement offered by this software is the new capacity for automatic targeting of air-to-surface weapons following integration of the Litening-III targeting pod. Further air-to-air and air-to-surface capabilities have also been introduced, along with improvements to the communications systems.

Eurofighter is Europe’s largest defence programme, involving the four core nations of the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy. To date, the Eurofighter programme has logged 681 aircraft orders to 9 nations around the globe.

Source: Eurofighter GmbH, Airbus
Image: Airbus

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