Spain to buy 20 Eurofighter Typhoons to replace its aging fleet of F-18 Fighters

Spain has recently signed a deal with the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency, to buy 16 single-seater and four twin-seater Eurofighter combat aircraft. The €2.043bn ($2.15bn) worth deal will supply the Spanish Air Force with the Tranche 4 Version of the Eurofighter, the tranche 4 is the latest version of the Eurofighter Typhoon with the service life span beyond 2060.

The contract to buy 20 Eurofighters was signed during the ILA Berlin Airshow by Carlo Mancusi, the CEO of Eurofighter and General Miguel Ángel Martín, director general of NETMA who signed on behalf of the Spanish government, and was witnessed by Secretary of State Amparo Valcarce representing the Spanish Defense Ministry.

According to recent reports published by Breaking Defense, Known as the Halcon program, the aircrafts order will cover the delivery of a fleet of E-Scan (Electronically Scanned) radar equipped fighter aircraft. The acquisition was approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers on 14 December 2021 and includes the aircraft, engines, a simulator and the necessary support services.

The order is the fourth tranche of deliveries of the Eurofighter, also known as the Typhoon, to Spain, which has already taken delivery of 73. However, because four of the aircraft have crashed (in 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2017) it now has 69 left. The delivery of the 20 signed for today will bring the Spanish fleet up to 89.

Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said in a statement that “this additional order reinforces Spain’s commitment not only towards the Eurofighter but also to its development and industrial environment. I would like to thank the customer for its firm position with respect to European defense at a time when it is needed most.” Airbus Defence and Space owns 46% of the Eurofighter consortium, while BAE Systems owns 33% and Italy’s Leonardo the remaining 21%.

The twin-engine Typhoon, developed by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain in the late 1980s, is one of three 4+ generation fighter aircraft developed in Europe at the end of the 20th Century — the others being France’s Rafale and Sweden’s Gripen. Despite its recognized capabilities, the aircraft has struggled on the export market, logging 681 aircraft orders to nine nations since the first production contract was signed in January 1998.

Apart from the four nations that developed it, who together have ordered 530 of the aircraft (Germany 181, the UK 160, Italy 96 and Spain 93), the Typhoon has only been successfully delivered to Austria (15), Oman (12), Saudi Arabia (72) and Kuwait, which has received four of the 28 it has ordered. Qatar is scheduled to receive the first of the 24 it has ordered later this year.

The F-18s stationed with the Spanish Air Force’s 46th Wing on the Gando Base on the Canary Islands in the Atlantic, which the Typhoons will replace, were bought from the US Navy second-hand and are scheduled to be retired in 2024. But first deliveries of the 20 Typhoons are not expected until 2026.

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