Spain Has Ordered 20 New Eurofighters To Replace Part Of Its Legacy F-18 Hornets

Eurofighter Spain
Eurofighter HALCÓN on ground (Image credit: Airbus)

The Halcón agreement, announced at the ILA air show in Berlin, will see Spain receive 16 single-seater and 4 twin-seater Eurofighters to replace part of the legacy F-18 Hornets.

On Jun. 23, 2022, Eurofighter GmbH, NATO EF2000 and Tornado Development, Production and Logistics Management Agency (NETMA), and Eurojet Turbo GmbH signed the Halcón (Hawk) contract that will support the continued modernisation of the Spanish Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon fleet.

The new contract was signed at a special ceremony at ILA by Miguel Aěngel Martiěn Peěrez, 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.

As part of the Halcon programme, Spain will acquire 20 latest generation Eurofighter jets, consisting of 16 single-seaters and 4 twin-seaters, along with 48 new EJ200 engines. The E-Scan (Electronically Scanned) radar-equipped 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 Euro-canard aircraft has been in service with the Ejército del Aire since 2003. The Eurofighters are operated from Morón (ALA 11 – 11th Wing) and Albacete (ALA 14), from where they carry out QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service, securing Spain’s territory. The aircraft are also regularly deployed to support NATO Air Policing missions in the Baltics and more recently the Black Sea. The new aircraft, that will grow the fleet of Spanish Eurofighters grow to 90 aircraft, will be used to equip a third base with Eurofighter jets: Gando, on the Canary Islands, which is home to the ALA 46.  The local-based ALA 46/Esc. 462 flies the legacy EF-18 Hornets, surplus U.S. Navy Horne delivered to the Spanish Air Force between 1995 and 2000.

The first new aircraft are due to be delivered in 2026.

Eurofighter HALCÓN (Image credit: Airbus)

Worth 2.043B Euro, the acquisition, that also includes a simulator and support services, was approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers on Dec. 14, 2021.

‘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 defence at a time when it is needed most,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, in a public statement. According to Airbus: “The Spanish Eurofighter 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 technological 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 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.”

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.