The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) has signed a landmark contract for the acquisition of 20 latest-generation Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Known as the Halcón 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. 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 the third base with Eurofighter jets, namely Gando on the Canary Islands, which is home to the 46th Wing.
“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 concerning European defence at a time when it is needed most,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. 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.
The Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon is assembled, tested and delivered at the Airbus Getafe site (Spain) and its industrial footprint translates into more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in Spain alone. The main national defence and technology companies are involved in the manufacturing process. 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 the 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.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a European multinational twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter. The Typhoon is a highly agile aircraft, designed to be an effective dogfighter in combat. Later production aircraft have been increasingly better equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with an increasing number of different armaments and equipment, including Storm Shadow, Brimstone and Marte ER missiles. The Typhoon was designed originally as an air superiority fighter and is manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH. The NATO Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado Management Agency, representing the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain, manages the project and is the prime customer. Eurofighter Typhoon is Europe’s largest defence programme, involving the four core nations of the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy. In addition to its technological capabilities, it secures more than 100,000 jobs in Europe. To date, the Eurofighter programme has logged 681 aircraft orders to 9 nations around the globe.