The only model that can replace the Navy's fighters is the F-35B

The military purchases that Spain plans: MPA, MLRS and a substitute for the EF-18 and Harrier II

The low investment of the last Spanish governments in defense has led to the accumulation of obsolete materials pending renewal.

Spain, the F-35, the EF-18 and the Harrier II: the problems that lie ahead and their causes
The Spanish EF-18, the main attraction in a massive popular event in Lithuania

Faced with this challenge, the draft of the General State Budgets for 2023 (PGE 2023) has shed light on the plans that the Ministry of Defense has to replace some of the weapons systems that are already in the end of its operational life. Specifically, the part of the PGE 2023 dedicated to Defense (see PDF) shows some new features on page 5.

Page 5 of the draft of the General State Budgets for 2023 that has revealed the new acquisitions that the Ministry of Defense plans. Click on the image to see it enlarged (Source: Ministerio d Hacienda).

One of the most interesting data on that page refers to the fighters. There is talk of a "substitute for the C.15M", the Spanish military name for the EF-18M Hornet fighter of the Air Force. There is a first phase endowed with 4,500 million euros, without indicating which model is expected to be purchased. It is possible that this first phase will consist of the purchase of the most modern versions of the Eurofighter Typhoon. But in addition, there is a second item of 6,250 million euros for a replacement for the C.15M and the Harrier II. Although in this case it could be both the Eurofighter and the FCAS in the case of the EF-18M, because last year the government ruled out the purchase of the F-35 to replace those fighters.

A US Navy F-35A at Los Llanos Air Base, in Albacete (Spain) on June 10, 2019 (Photo: US Navy).

However, the only substitute on the market for the Harrier II is the F-35B Lightning II. Let us remember that the government has not confirmed the purchase of this fifth-generation aircraft so far. Moreover: in March of last year the socialists ruled out their purchase, but a few months later, in August, high-ranking commanders of the Spanish Navy met with those responsible for the F-35 program in the US, to talk about this project.

A Lockheed P-3A Orion (P.3-01 / 22-21) of the 22 Group. The Air Force only has one aircraft of this type in active service, which will be withdrawn from service in December (Photo: Contando Estrelas).

The aforementioned page of the PGE 2023 also includes "Maritime Patrol Aircraft-MPA", with an item of 580 million euros, and "Maritime Surveillance Aircraft-VIGMA" , with an item of 560 million euros. The document does not indicate which model it would be, but it is very likely that it is the CASA C-295. This is an urgent need for the Air Force, since the only P-3 Orion that still remaining active will be discharged in December, as reported by Infodefensa yesterday, with which Spain will be left without maritime surveillance aircraft. Something unusual considering the country's enormous coastline and its strategic position.

The American rocket launcher M-142 HIMARS (Photo: US Marine Corps).

Another interesting point on the aforementioned page is the epigraph that says "High Mobility Rocket Launchers-SILAM". These last acronyms refer to the High Mobility Launcher System, what the US calls MLRS. Possibly it is the famous HIMARS, which is having an excellent result in Ukraine, or a Spanish project based on that American rocket launcher. The PGE 2023 reserve an item of 290 million for this project. Currently, the Army does not have systems of this type, after the withdrawal from service of the 14 rocket launchers in the Teruel system in 2011.

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