Spain set to replace Hornets with more Eurofighters

Spain is seeking 20 new-build Eurofighter EF-2000s to complement its existing fleet of the multi-role fighter and to replace its Boeing F/A-18A Hornet fleet, which are based on the Canary Islands.

On October 19, the Eurofighter consortium announced that it had submitted proposals to the Spanish government, which is set to acquire 20 examples of the latest standard of the EF-2000. As part of the proposed deal, the new-build Tranche 3+/4 aircraft will feature the E-Scan active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The move comes under the nation’s Project Halcon (Falcon), which is part of the Spanish Air Force’s wider modernisation efforts.

Spanish Eurofighter [Eurofighter/Geoffrey Lee]
A pair of Spanish Air Force-operated Eurofighter EF-2000s - a single-seat and two-seat example - from Ala 11 at Morón air base in flight. Note that both aircraft are equipped with Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled (IRIS-T) short-range infrared homing air-to-air missiles. Eurofighter/Geoffrey Lee

In a press release, the Eurofighter consortium said: “Airbus is in the process of negotiations with the Spanish government to mature the proposal and a contract for the 20 aircraft is expected to be signed in 2021.”

The consortium added that the Project Halcon contract “will secure Eurofighter manufacturing and final assembly work at the Airbus facility [in] Getafe until at least 2030.” Under the current plan, the new EF-2000s will be delivered from 2025 to 2030 and will enable the air arm to begin phasing out and replacing its ageing F/A-18A Hornet fleet.

At present, the Spanish Air Force operates 52 single-seat Boeing EF-18AM Hornets and 12 two-seat EF-18BMs. This is complemented by a fleet of 20 F/A-18As, which are solely based on the Canary Islands and were acquired second-hand from the US Navy in 1995. In addition to this, Spain operates 56 single-seat EF-2000s and 13 two-seat examples from its Albacete and Morón air bases.