The Portuguese Air Force indicates that the planes would take 7 years to arrive

Portugal confirms that it has begun its transition to the F-35 and indicates bad news for Spain

The F-35 program continues to recruit new future operators among European NATO countries. The last of them is Portugal.

The US Department of Defense sets a deadline for Spain to acquire the F-35B fighter
The Commander of the Aircraft Flotilla of the Spanish Navy speaks clearly about the F-35

This Friday, David Cenciotti commented in The Aviationist an interview published by the Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias on April 12 with the Chief of the General Staff of the Portuguese Air Force, General João Cartaxo Alves, who has spoken openly about "the fundamental process of transition to the F-35", as a replacement for the 28 F-fighters 16 that Portugal has active:

It is something that is happening, but it is not done in a day. This process has already begun.We had a workshop here with Lockheed and the US Air Force to also learn what this leap to the fifth generation entails.

It is a program that will ultimately have a budget of 5.5 billion. And it is not a program that is paid in one year, we are talking about a program that lasts 20 years. It is a value that, at first glance, we say is a very high value, but if we then decompose it into the period of 20 years that is necessary, and that we only receive the plane from the seventh year, we see that, evidently, it is an appropriate program and in which the logistical effort of this program will be distributed practically throughout Europe in the future.

A US Navy F-35C Lightning II (Photo: U.S. Navy).

In December, General Cartaxo had already expressed Portugal's interest in the F-35, but this It is the first official confirmation that the transition program to the new fighter has already begun.

The announcement made by General Cartaxo in that interview implies that Portugal is ahead of Spain in the acquisition of a fifth generation fighter, since until now the Spanish government has not given any news indicating its possible intention to acquire the F-35, not even to replace the Harrier II of the Spanish Navy, for which there is no other possible substitute on the market at present.

An F-35A from the 388th Fighter Wing of the United States Air Force at Los Llanos Air Base along with Spanish Eurofighter fighters on June 10, 2019 (Photo: U.S. Navy).

It should be noted that the Spanish Navy has already shown its interest in the F-35B. The first statement in that sense was made by the Admiral Chief of Staff of the Navy (AJEMA), Teodoro Esteban López Calderón, in November 2020, but until now The government has treated the matter as if it were a taboo subject, increasingly delaying deadlines and putting at risk the capacity of the Spanish Navy with its combat aircraft, which could be lost if the F-35 does not arrive. in time before the withdrawal of the Harrier II program in 2030.

An F-35A of the Royal Danish Air Force (Photo: Forsvarsministeriet).

If, as General Cartaxo points out, the planes would take seven years to arrive, even if Spain took the step now to acquire the F-35B it could already be too late, since the new fighters would possibly not arrive before the withdrawal of the Harrier II. It is bad data for Spain that should set off alarms in the Ministry of Defense, but at the moment it does not seem very concerned about this issue.


Main photo: Royal Air Force. An F-35A of the United States Air Force.

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