Despite Madrid denial, US confirms Spanish interest in F-35

MADRID, ($1=0.88 Euros) – Last week, a spokeswoman for the Spanish Ministry of Defense denied information according to which Madrid would consider acquiring 50 5th generation F-35 fighter planes [including 25 in the so-called STOVL version, ie take-off short and vertical landing] to replace part of the F / A-18 Hornets of the Ejército del Aire and the AV-8 Harrier II of the Armada Española.

This interest in the F-35 on loan to Madrid came from confidences made by a Lockheed-Martin “official” during a session at the Royal Institute of International Affairs [Chatham House] and echoed by IHS Jane’s and Aviation Week, learned

If this information had not been surprising for the F-35B, the only aircraft on the market that could replace the AV-8 Harrier II of the Spanish naval aviation, it was quite different for the F-35A, however, about Spain’s involvement in the Air Combat System of the Future [SCAF], conducted in cooperation with France and Germany, and the Eurofighter consortium.

It is from this angle that the spokeswoman for the Spanish Ministry of Defense responded about this interest in the Lockheed-Martin plane. “Spain does not intend to buy F-35 fighter jets from the United States and remains committed to the European SCAF program” and the “Spanish government has no budget to commit to another aircraft project in addition to the one already underway,” she said. He insisted: “We rule out entering the F-35 project. Our investment commitment is in SCAF”.

If we could believe it about the F-35A, there was nevertheless room for doubt for the F-35B, except to consider a possible abandonment of the naval air capabilities of the Spanish Navy.

In any case, this November 16, and according to comments made on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow and reported by Aviation Week, Greg Ulmer, Executive Vice President of Lockheed-Martin, confirmed that discussions are indeed taking place with the Spanish government regarding the F-35.

The Spaniards “have an aircraft carrier and they are going to have to replace their Harrier. So our approach in Spain goes through this,” explained Ulmer. “We also tell them about the F-35A,” he added. “Despite the denial of the ministry, Lockheed is still in talks with officials of the Spanish government” he assured. “I understand that they issued a different [statement], but we continue to hear from them that they are interested in the F-35,” he insisted.

Be that as it may, and given the difficulties of SCAF, current [the negotiations between Dassault Aviation and the German and Spanish subsidiaries of Airbus still drag on, editor’s note] and undoubtedly to come, this interest of Madrid for the F-35 could wake up that of Berlin, which, to ensure the nuclear missions of NATO, chose the F/A-18 Super Hornet of Boeing. The contract has still not been signed and one still does not know. intentions of the future German government coalition.


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