The American F-35 equips or has been ordered today by no less than 9 European air forces, while 3 others, Greece, Romania and the Czech Republic, have already announced their intention to provide it in the short or medium term. Not only will it become the most used aircraft in Europe, but it will form, for many air forces, the only aircraft in operation. To date, only 3 major European air forces have not announced their intention to acquire Lockheed-Martin's fighter-bomber: France, Sweden and Spain. It is now more than likely that Paris and Stockholm will continue to carry the torch of European military aeronautics alone. Indeed, everything indicates that Madrid is preparing to announce, shortly, an order for F-35B, perhaps supplemented by an order for F-35A.
Today theAir Force y del Espacio, the Spanish Air and Space Force, operates 152 combat aircraft, i.e. 84 Boeing F/A-18 Hornets, including 12 two-seater EF-18BMs dedicated to training, as well as 68 Eurofighter Typhoons. While the Typhoons are undergoing modernization, in particular the 17 aircraft of Tranche 1 exclusively air-to-air which are brought to the Tranche 3 multirole standard, the Hornets, as for them, must be replaced, just like the 13 AV-8B Harriers of the Navy who today equip the aircraft carrier Juan Carlos. In June 2022, Madrid thus announced the acquisition of 20 additional Typhoons, to replace the twenty Hornets of squadron 46 which protects the Canary Islands. As for the replacement of the remaining F/A-18s and the AV-8Bs, they are the subject of two separate programs, which are to be launched this year.
The first of these programs aims to replace the C15M of the Air Force, the Spanish designation for the Hornets. It has a budget of €4,5 billion, including €130 million in 2023, and should enable the replacement of the Hornets concerned by 2028. Everything leads us to believe, to date, that this program will involve the acquisition of 25 additional Typhoons, this corresponding both to the needs of the Spanish Air Force, which will then align between 110 and 115 European general-purpose fighters. The Eurofighter Typhoon has two important advantages in Spain: excellent performance in terms of air superiority, as well as the involvement of the Spanish aeronautical defense industry in its production, the latter being a member of the Eurofighter consortium. It is not surprising, in this context, that Airbus DS communicates, this week, on the 657 jobs and the €1,7 billion in GDP produced by the Alcyon contract concerning the 20 aircraft ordered in 2022 As for the second program, everything suggests that it will relate to the acquisition of F-35 Lightning II.
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