The Hellenic Air Force could receive up to 40 fighters of the F-35A variant

Greece receives the ok from the US for its F-35s with good news for the Spanish Navy

Talking about the F-35 and Spain is already becoming desperate, given the refusal of the Spanish government to address its purchase.

The Commander of the Aircraft Flotilla of the Spanish Navy speaks clearly about the F-35
The Spanish Air Force magazine points out the F-35B as a 'natural replacement' for the Spanish Harriers

As far as the Air Force is concerned, the government's solution seems to be to continue purchasing Eurofighters to replace the EF-18 Hornets that are reaching the end of their operational life, even at the risk of for the first time in its aeronautical history, Spain only ends up having one fighter model, with the risk of having to ground the entire fleet in the event of a breakdown in the European fighter that forces all aircraft to be immobilized. planes, a possibility for which the Air Force was in favor of purchasing the F-35.

An EAB-8B+ Harrier II Plus fighter of the 9th Squadron of the Spanish Navy, the VA.18-6, during a display at the RIAT in England last July. With the upcoming withdrawal from service of the Harrier II of the US Marines and the Italian Navy, the Spanish Navy will be the only operator of this already veteran aircraft (Photo: BAE Systems Air).

The Spanish Harrier IIs will be retired in 2030

The case of our naval force is more worrying. In 2020 the Spanish Navy already indicated that it would need the F-35 in 5 or 6 years, due to the end of the operational life of its Harrier II fighters. The F-35B is the only substitute available for this type of embarked aircraft, so the Spanish Navy should receive it in one or two years so as not to lose its air support capacity with fixed-wing aircraft. In October, the Commander of the Aircraft Flotilla indicated that the Spanish Harrier IIs will be retired from service in 2030, since "the year 2028 will see the end of the cooperative program that has guaranteed its maintenance and updating."

An artist's representation of one of the future F-35s of the Polish Air Force (Photo: Lockheed Martin).

Greece expects to receive its first F-35s between 2027 and 2028

Last Friday, January 26, the US State Department approved the sale of up to 40 F-35A fighters to Greece. Right now, this aircraft is already operational, has been acquired or is in the process of acquisition by the following NATO countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Germany , Finland, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Romania.

On Friday, the Reuters agency noted that Greece expects the first deliveries of its F-35s to begin between 2027 and 2028. If this deadline were met, the Spanish Navy could receive the F-35 to replace the Harrier II before its retirement, as long as the purchase is made now and no more years are allowed to pass. So, now the ball is in the government's court.

An F-35A from the 388th Fighter Wing of the United States Air Force at Los Llanos Air Base along with Spanish Eurofighter fighters, in a photo taken on June 10, 2019 on the occasion of their participation in the Tactical Leadership Programme. (TLP) that is developed on that Spanish base (Photo: U.S. Navy).

Is Greece managing too optimistic a time frame?

However, and without wanting to be a spoilsport, I think that the delivery time calculated by Greece is too optimistic. Let us remember that The Czech Republic expects to receive its F-35s in 2035. Let us remember that some countries have already suffered delays in their delivery times for these fighters. Belgium expected the arrival of its F-35s for 2023 but now expects them for 2025. In case anyone wants to get an idea of how long these planes are taking, The US approved the sale of the F-35 to Belgium in 2018, up to six years now. Taking these deadlines into account, even if Spain bought the F-35B now, it would not arrive on time. We will have to wait to see if the delivery times for the F-35 are reduced or remain as they are, but it will What is unreasonable is to continue letting time pass without confirming your purchase, for purely political reasons.


Main photo: BAE Systems Air. A Harrier II of the Spanish Navy flying alongside a British F-35 at the RIAT last July.

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