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Rejecting the acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II, Spain chooses to focus on the LTE variant of the Eurofighter Typhoon

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    Rejecting the acquisition of the F-35 Lightning II, Spain chooses to focus on the LTE variant of the Eurofighter Typhoon

    Spain is different from its ally the United States which is generally 'talkative' about ordering the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet, even though three other countries with status as part of the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium, such as Germany, England and Italy, have opted for the acquisition of the F-35 variant. 

    But Spain has a different attitude by rejecting the offer to acquire the F-35 and choosing to focus on orders and development of the Eurofighter Typhoon, which incidentally is made in Europe and whose production can create jobs domestically.

    Quoted by eurasiantimes.com (7/11/2023), the Pentagon's hopes were dashed when Spain withdrew its previous declaration of intent to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II as a replacement for its existing McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II and Boeing EF-18 Hornet fleet. 

    “We have no information of interest in acquiring any other weapons system other than the Eurofighter,” the Spanish Ministry of Defense told Janes.com. This statement was made when Madrid hosted the 2023 IQPC International Fighter Conference (IFC).

    Spain first announced in November 2021 that it had requested information about Airbus' upgraded Long Term Evolution (LTE) version of the Eurofighter as well as the F-35A Lightning II conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, as well as short take-off and vertical variants. landing (STOVL) F-35B from Lockheed Martin. However, this latest announcement indicates that the country has halted any potential F-35 purchases, at least for now.

    The Spanish government's rejection of the F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft may be a setback for the United States and Lockheed Martin, which has swept most Western and Central European countries with F-35 orders. Military analysts have asserted that the F-35's high level of interoperability with allies and partners, especially in NATO, has been a major factor contributing to the successful wave of the F-35 promotional campaign.

    However, these factors combined have not worked out for Spain, which has expressed its preference for the Eurofighter Typhoon as a 4.5th generation fighter jet over the fifth generation F-35 Lightning II jet.

    Typhoon's flagship weapon variant


    Spain still seems hesitant about buying the F-35. In November 2021, Spain put an end to all speculation about purchasing American F-35 stealth fighters after its Ministry of Defense spokesperson clarified to the press that all of Spain's energies were focused on the sixth generation fighter jet project, the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) which had been developed with France and Germany.

    General Javier Salto Martínez-Avial, Chief of Air & Space Forces, described the Spanish Defense Ministry's “long-term” goal in acquiring the fifth-generation fighter, in addition to purchasing additional Eurofighter Typhoons. However, there is some internal discussion as the Spanish government does not seem interested in purchasing expensive F-35s from the United States.

    The withdrawal from the F-35 talks also coincides with the possibility of retrofitting a Long Term Evolution (LTE) upgrade for the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet. The Ministry of Defense said on November 6 that Spain may upgrade to the Long Term Evolution (LTE) variant of its Eurofighter fighter jet.

    Upgrading the LTE to the Eurofghter Typhoon fleet will not transform the fighter into a modern stealth jet, but it will certainly improve the capabilities of the Eurofighters operated by Spain.

    Upgrading to the LTE variant offers advances in communications systems, sensors, and avionics. With these improvements, Eurofighter can share data more quickly, have greater situational awareness, and communicate with other aircraft and ground systems more effectively.

    The advanced radar system on the LTE model is one of its main characteristics. The aircraft has an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which improves target tracking, extends detection range, and strengthens defenses against electronic countermeasures. 

    The LTE variant has enhanced electronic warfare capabilities in addition to improved radar, enabling better self-defense and countermeasures against possible threats.

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