In July last year, on the occasion of the analysis of the HALCON proposal by Airbus to deliver 20 Eurofighter Typhoons to the Spanish Air Force to replace the F-18s stationed in Gando, the manufacturer highlighted the possibility of working with Germany on the acquisition of 38 Eurofighters under the Quadriga program is underway.
Recently, Germany has commissioned Airbus for these 38 combat aircraft for its air force, 30 single-seaters and 8 two-seaters of the so-called Tranche 4 with electronic E-SCAN scan radar. In addition, three of them will be equipped with additional test facilities such as instrumented test aircraft for the future development of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Let’s remember that in July, Eurofighter highlighted the advantages of Spain and Germany in the acquisition of the next generation Eurofighter. While Germany is purchasing the new aircraft as a replacement for the Tranche 1 typhoons, Spain will have to replace the C.15A, which will be in service by 2025 at the latest. For this reason, Airbus, with the approval of the Luftwaffe and DGAM, offered 20 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft of Tranche 3, which were also equipped with the new E-SCAN radar, a program called HALCON after the nickname of the aircraft of the above-mentioned Wing 46.
Spain could have participated in this acquisition with Germany, both through tight delivery times and through similar configurations. In addition, Germany is a Spanish partner in E-SCAN radar, to the point that the first five radars ordered by Spain are intended for these aircraft stationed in Gando, if the deadlines match, but they are transferred to the existing Trancha 1 retrofit program go. The Air Force is marching and is carried out at the Airbus facilities in Getafe. In addition, the Ministry of Defense intends to purchase a further 17 E-SCAN radars which, depending on the discontinuation date, could be intended for the Eurofighters of the HALCON program.
Airbus expects the contract to be signed in 2021 and worth around € 2 billion. Deliveries will be between 2025 and 2030, although the company can expedite deliveries if needed. In any event, the Getafe factory will ensure a workload through 2030.
In addition to Spain, decisions about the purchase of new combat aircraft by Switzerland and Finland are pending next year 2021.
An urgent need
Airbus and the Department of Defense are negotiating the acquisition of 20 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft to replace the F / A-18C of the 462 Falcons Squadron of Wing 46 at Gando Air Force Base. Although the Air Force, together with Airbus Defense and Space, has been performing maintenance on these veteran aircraft, they have since been required to be replaced. Gando F / A-18Cs were acquired second-hand by the United States Navy and have operated for more than 30 years in a high humidity, saline, and sun exposure environment that degrades and corrodes the units more than any other.
The arrival of new Eurofighter typhoons at the Air Force will secure the Air Force fleet in the medium and long term, as Airbus believes that Airbus has a useful life well beyond 2060 and its technical capabilities allow full integration in the Future Combat Air System or FCAS.
In addition, for Gando, this Eurofighter Typhoon would not only be the most modern version available, it could also incorporate the features of the LTE or Long Term Evolution program if it were already underway at this point. This initiative aims to improve, but not exclusively, the systems of the current tranche 2 and 3, especially the avionics teams, so that the aircraft maintains the ability to grow and improve so that it can evolve and at least regularly relevant capacities integrated by 2040
The right candidate
In a recent interview by Grupo Edefa with the Chief General of the Air Force Logistics Support Command, Lieutenant General Ignacio Bengoechea Mart, he spoke about the development of various systems in service. In the case of the Eurofighter, both with the arrival of new aircraft and with the ongoing modernization programs, the Lieutenant General recognizes that the Air Force must begin replacing the C.15A (F / A-18A) in the Canary Islands (Gando Air Base) in the time horizon of 2024-25.
With that in mind, in April this year the Air Force defined the operational requirements that the final solution must meet and these were recently validated by the Chief of Staff of Defense. While Bengoechea may have other options to respond to the required capacity that is being replaced. However, it was concluded that it was a fully integrated weapons system in the Air Force and that in addition to the dates requested, it could have implications at the national industrial level: the Eurofighter could be the ideal candidate to respond to the need to replace the C.15A. In this sense, there is a coordination between the DGAM (General Directorate Armaments and Material) and the Air Force to examine the possible acquisition of up to 20 new Eurofighters.
To this end, the Ministry of Defense sent a letter to the European NETMA Agency (which manages the Eurofighter) in the third quarter of last year, and in the first quarter of this year the document was issued with a call for proposals or tenders. (Jos M Navarro Garca)
Photo: Two C.15As from Wing 46 during the final Ocean Sky 2020 exercise (Air Force)
Air refueling of a Eurofighter from Wing 14 by Wing 31 (Luftwaffe)
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