Tag Archives: Spanish Air Force

Spanish Air Force to decommission Mirage F1 fleet in 2013

Whilst the French Air Force is currently using the plane as a reconnaissance and attack platform in the Mali Air War, the Spanish Air Force is about to decommission the Dassault Mirage F1.

The Chief of the Spanish Air Force Staff (JEMA), Air General Francisco Javier García Arnaiz, recently reported that this year they would “eliminate three systems,” those that already have substitutes: the C-212 Aviocar and Fokker F-27 in the SAR Service, and the Mirage F1 fighters.

In the latter case, the Eurofighter will replace it completely when it reaches the initial operational capability in the 14th Wing Air Base in Los Llanos (Albacete).

The acquisition of the French fighters by Spain in 1972 was due by the constant interference of the United States regarding the use of Spanish Air Force’s U.S. military equipment, especially in the case of the F-86 Sabre and T-33 Shooting Star jets in the conflict of Sidi Ifni (Morocco). With the acquisition of the Mirage F1, the Spanish government marked the end of dependence on diplomatic vetoes.

In 1975 a 1st batch of 15 Mirage F1 C(E) arrived to Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete. Designated C.14, the planes were assigned to 141 Squadron, the first of the newly created 14th Wing.

The F1 C was an all-weather interceptor, equipped with a Thomson-CSF Cyrano IV monopulse radar and a limited secondary ground attack capability. Initially, the aircraft was armed with two internal DEFA 553 30mm cannons and Matra R530 medium-range air-to-air missiles.

The Spanish Air Force’s Mirage F1 CE suffered modifications that allowed integration with American AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

In the second half of 1976 a 2nd batch of planes arrived and two years later a final 3th batch which included 6 two-seater F1 BE and 24 of the most advanced single-seat F1 EE was delivered.

The F1E had an upgraded equipment with a new computer data, Head-up Display (HUD), SAGEM-Kearfott inertial platform, digital computer updated Cyrano IV radar and a fixed refuelling probe.

With this new batch, Spanish Air Force could create the 142 Squadron. The most advanced F1EE went to  the 46th Wing based in Gando, Canary Islands.

In all, Spain has acquired 91 Mirage F1. 73 units initially purchased (45 F1 CE, 22 F1 EE and 6 F1 BE) plus 5 second hand units purchased from France and 13 second hand units also purchased to Qatar.

Mid-’90s, 51 single-seaters and 4 double-seaters were upgraded to F1 M version. They had a number of improvements including intelligent 26″ HUDs with integrated radar, HOTAS system, modernized Cyrano IVM radar for accurate ground-attack capability in four different modes, Night Vision Goggles compatibility, inertial navigator Sagem ULISS 47 and AIM-9 JULI Sidewinder compatibility among others.

Mirage F1 SpAF Tiger

Image credit: NATO Tiger Association / Spanish Air Force

From August 2006, Spain dispatched three Mirage F1 M fighters to Lithuania’s First Air Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport for a 4 months deployment as part of NATO’s 10th “Air Police” patrol mission within Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia’s territorial airspace, being scrambled twice to intercept undisclosed intruders.

Nicknamed ‘La abuela’ (Grandmother) by the Spanish pilots, the Mirage F1 has been an active member of the annual NATO Tiger Meet since 1986. From this year, the state-of-the-art Eurofighter Typhoon will take that role within the 142 Squadron.

El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com

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F-5 fighter jet pilot dies in training accident in Spain

On Nov. 2, a Northrop F-5M aircraft belonging to the 23th Wing of the Spanish Air Force (Talavera la Real Air Base), suffered an accident that killed one of his crew, Major and instructor Angel Alvarez Raigada, married and with two children. He was accompanied by his student, Lieutenant Sergio Santamaria, who was injured and remains in the Hospital in Badajoz.

The Technical Research Committee on Military Aircraft Accidents (CITAAM) continues its work to determine the exact causes and circumstances of the mishap. Although under the current regulations, no data may be provided as the research remains open, initial hypothesis suggests there was an engine failure.

Image credit: Spanish Air Force

The most recent crash of a F-5 was on Jan. 27, 2006, when a Captain and a Lieutenant, instructor and student, died in a crash while conducting a practice flight over the mountains of southern Badajoz.

On Apr. 30, 2003, another F-5 crashed near the base of Talavera la Real, killing the pilot and sole occupant, a Captain instructor.

That same year, on January 22, a Lieutenant instructor died and a 2nd Lieutenant student suffered slightly injuries when their F5 crashed near the town of Santa Marta de los Barros.

The light supersonic fighter aircraft F-5A/B Freedom Fighter is a simple, lightweight two-seater, made in Spain since 1970 by Aeronautical Constructions SA (CASA) under license from the U.S. company “Northrop” which began to build them in the early sixties.

Image credit: Spanish Air Force

The F-5 of the Spanish Air Force has undergone a complete modernization of its avionics especially to suit the teaching functions of training and aggressor aircraft as a step towards next-generation fighters such as the Eurofighter.

In its modernization, the plane integrates new equipment, including navigation systems VOR / ILS and TACAN, communication systems V / UHF, multifunction displays, MDP mission computer, integrated inertial EGI system (INS / GPS), radio altimeter, presentation HUD, new virtual radar for training. Also a new management systems and aircraft control, control systems and throttles levers (HOTAS), video recording systems and mission planning. This new version of the aircraft is called F-5M.

All fighter pilots that currently flies in the Spanish Air Force were formed in the F-5M.

El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com

Amazing video of the Spanish Air Force 43 Group flying the “Superscooper” shows why firefighting missions are a bit hazardous

The 43 Group (Grupo) is a unit of the Spanish Air Force (Ejercito del Aire) with the primary mission to collaborate in extinguishing forest fires and participate in supporting secondary missions of Search and Rescue Service (SAR) operationally dependent from the Military Emergency Unit (UME).

To address these missions, the 43 Group has 14 Bombardier CL-215T and 3 CL-415 “Superscooper” aircraft.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/48642618 w=460&h=259]

The 43 Group has two planes with their crews ready to depart with a very short notice 365 days a year at Torrejón Air Base. However, the Summer Campaign (between June 15 and September 30) is the period when the unit makes the most effort and maintains a minimum of 70% of the aircraft available, with their crews ready to act in any risk areas of the Peninsula and Balearic and Canary Islands.


The firefighting mission is undoubtedly one of the most hazardous for pilots. The flight at very low altitude, the smoke that reduces visibility, winds causing turbulence, the large concentration of aircraft on the same area, the topography of the area is generally abrupt, and the proper fire: these are risk factors that 43 Group crews face and assume through a continuous training plan.

[Read also: U.S. Air Force C-130H plane crashes during a firefighting mission in South Dakota]

So far, the unit has made a total of 133,100 flight hours and has made approximately 305,000 water loads. This year, the 43 Group have tripled their flying hours in the Summer Campaign compared to last year. As of Aug. 20, 1.894 flight hours were made with a total of 5,620 water downloads on fire.

Noteworthy is also the performance on August 11 in which 13 aircraft flew at the same fighting fire in different regions of Spain.

The interesting video, pays tribute to these brave crews and also remembers the fifteen members of this unit who gave their lives in the course of its mission.

“Apaga… y vámonos”

El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com

The Spanish Air Force's Orion Detachment in Djibouti reaches 4,000 flight hours fighting piracy off Horn of Africa

The Spanish Air Force (Ejercito del Aire) detachment in Djibouti, inside the structure of the EUNAVFOR (European Union Naval Force) in the Operation ATALANTA, reached the 4,000 flying hours in operational missions in support of the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

Image credit: Spanish Air Force

This unit of the Spanish Air Force deployed in Djibouti has a Tactical Air Detachment entity with the mission of the surveillance, reconnaissance, information gathering and prevention of maritime piracy in the framework of Operation ATALANTA, within the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and has been deployed continuously since the beginning of the mission, now three and a half years.

The past Aug. 19, during a flight with the Lockheed P-3 Orion, the ORION Detachment surpassed 4,000 flight hours in this mission. Of this total, approximately one quarter represents the contribution of the crew and staff of the 48 & 49 Wings, when they are deployed with a CN-235 VIGMA aircraft supporting the operation.

Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

This important figure coincides with the 50 years being in service of the Lockheed P-3 Orion, joining a very few club of airplanes in the world that can tout this distinct honor such as the spy plane Lockheed U-2 and the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress in the USAF, and the British Vickers VC10 in the RAF.

The P-3 Orion has been in the frontline from the Cuban Missile Crisis, three months after delivery of the first unit to the US Navy in 1962 to nowadays anti-piracy missions over the Gulf of Aden, with the spaniards P-3M Orion, flying tens of thousands of missions over the world’s seas and oceans.

El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com 

Spain to defer the delivery and purchase of 12 Typhoon fighter planes signed with the Eurofighter Defense Consortium

Spanish Defense Minister, Pedro Morenés, has confirmed that Spain wants to defer the delivery and purchase of 12 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes he has signed with the Eurofighter Defense Consortium and were going to get this year.

He has not detailed the economic impact of this decision, although it is clear that it will have a financial effect because the contract provides significant penalties for countries who do not acquire all units that were committed to receive.

Spain’s economic crisis has put government finances and defense budget under intense pressure. Late last year, the Spanish Ministry of Defense accumulated a delay of about 400 million euros by Cassidian Eurofighter but a payment of 309 million Euro in February brought the government back on track.

Spain committed to acquire a total of 87 European fighters amounting to 9.255 million euros, divided into three stages or tranches: 19 in the first phase, 34 in the second and 34 in the third. Subsequently, the third stage divided into two subphases: Phase 3A (20) and 3B (14).

In August 2009, during the Socialist government, Spain signed the purchase of 15 fighter jets and options for five more as part of the subphase or Tranche 3A and due to start being delivered in 2013.

Image credit: EADS CASA

Considered the situation in Euro-zone it appears less and less likely that there will be a Tranche 3B. The question is how to escape termination costs. Further negotiations can be expected, but one option is to count future exports as re-sales of scheduled orders from existing partner countries.

After BAE Systems failed its bid to supply 126 fighter jets to India, now Cassidian Spain leads the formal offer of the European consortium to secure a contract valued at over 7 billion euros with which South Korea desires to purchase 60 fighter aircrafts. In earlier statements, the final selection of the next-generation fighter would be announced sometime in October.

Now, DAPA (South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration) admits that October is only an optimistic initial target date and the final selection may not be announced until early 2013.

El Lince Analista for TheAviationist.com

Korean journalists visiting Spanish Air Force 11th Wing. Moron Air Base. May 8, 2012 (credit: Spanish Air Force)