UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!



In 1982, after four years of intense review of the future requirements of Spain’s military forces, the Spanish Defense Commission (composed of representatives of the armed forces, the Government, and private and public aircraft companies) announced its decision to procure 72 MDC F/A-18 fighter planes. At more than $2.4 billion, the program was marked as the biggest procurement package in the history of the Spanish military. The aircraft, designated as EF-l8, was first delivered to Spain in February 1986 and continued until July 1990.

The competition which led to this decision included bids from Dassault-Breguet (Mirage 2000), Panavia (Tornado), and GD (F-16). The Mirage 2000, selected as the primary combat aircraft of the French Air Force for the mid-1990s and beyond, was not chosen because Spain sought to add diversity to its fleet by procuring another type of aircraft to supplement the older Mirage aircraft already in its inventory. Without reaching the specialization offered by other aircraft, this plane is an extraordinary weapon system with great capacity for evolution and able to fill out both missions air-air and air-surface with high efficiency and high availability.

As in many major defense procurement decisions, politics played a large role in the process, causing much debate in the Spanish press, government, and community. Spain withstood much pressure from the European community, which saw Spain’s purchase as a chance for the nation to strengthen ties with West Germany in return for its support of Spain’s entry into the European Economic Community. Moreover, many Europeans felt that Spain’s choice of an American producer signaled a malevolence toward European manufacturers.

The strongest competitor to the F/A-18 was the F-16. The F-16 was unable to beat out the F/A-18, despite its cost advantage. One of the reasons it may have lost the competition was that the most lucrative offset possibilities had already been distributed in Western Europe through the sale of the F-16 to the EPG [European Participating Group] in 1975. Also, because of a large number of purchase orders pending for F-16s at that time, the Spanish Air Force, whose F-4 Phantoms and F-5 Tigers were 20 years old, would receive F-16s at a much later date than F/A-18s.

As part of the sales agreement, MDC and its major subcontractors agreed to complete offset transactions having a value of $1.5 billion in January 1981 dollars between 1983 and 1996. Offsets have been a part of Spanish defense procurements since the creation of a unified Spanish Defense Ministry in 1977. Major goals of the Ministry are to develop Spanish technology to the highest level, to become as self-sufficient as possible and to increase exports in order to improve the balance of payments. This policy is accomplished by the promotion of advanced research and development for weapons systems, participation in major multinational projects, and negotiation to obtain industrial and technological offsets from foreign suppliers.

For the procurement of new equipment, the Ministry of Defense first attempts to design and manufacture in Spain. If it is not possible to develop the equipment locally, then the participation of technologically more advanced countries is sought, particularly in Europe, in a way that would help Spain to produce the equipment and improve its technological capabilities. If it proves absolutely necessary to purchase the equipment or spare parts abroad, then suitable offset arrangements are required.

The objectives of Spain’s offset policy were to equalize the balance of payments with the supplier country; to obtain a transfer of technology to enhance the capabilities of the local defense industry; to ensure that maintenance would be carried out locally; to provide work for under-employed sections of the economy; and to stimulate other sectors of the economy. The level of offsets demanded depends primarily on the amount of competition between the foreign suppliers involved in a proposed transaction.

Obtaining direct offsets was the top priority. Also desirable were indirect offsets that include Spanish defense goods sold to the supplier country, “Technology offsets” (licenses to make commercial or defense products in Spain that involve technology transfer), and “economic offsets” — purchases of civilian products or services such as tourism. As an adjunct to the sales agreement for 72 EF-l8 fighter aircraft, MDC committed itself and its subcontractors to supply industrial and technological benefits to Spanish industry valued at $1.5 billion (1981 US. dollars), which was equivalent to 100 percent of the value of the sale in 1981.

The decision to purchase the F-18 after a long selection process that culminated in May 1983 with the purchase of 72 units, 12 of model B (two-seater) and 60 model A (car), reveals the will to get a high-capacity twin-engine attack and penetration.

The first aircraft arrived at the Base of Zaragoza in July 1986 to join the wing 15 and then move to the Ala 12 to replace the F-4C suffered. For the Air Force, it was the first time in its history, had been able to conduct a full program of benchmarking and final acquisition of a bomber without being involved in the diplomatic Treaty of Friendship.

The Spaniard EF-18 participated in international missions such as operations DENY Flight , Deliberate Force and Allied Force, when the Icaro (1994-2002) Detachment deployed at the base of Aviano (Italy) was activated, doing the first combat actions of the Air Force from the Ifni-Sahara campaign in 1958. The detachment was awarded Icaro collective character with the Air Medal for his brilliant performance in these transactions.

On July 21, 2009 Air Maestranza Albacete gave the Ala 46 of the Air Base of Gando (Las Palmas), the C-15 A-80 model F / A 18 A, having conducted the review Major Maintenance Program (MMP) defined by the Logistics Support Command (MALOG) halfway through the operational life of the appliance.

The personnel assigned by MAESAL to perform work on the C-15 came from the "Grand Tour" of the C-14, therefore with great experience in combat aircraft inspections. The initial preparation of this team was to conduct several courses in the Ala 12 and MAESAL for staff member of the same. Courses start on the wing 12. Subsequently they also received additional training staff conducting an inspection H3 in Wing 15. No. MAESAL two changes tank 4 and H3 are made.

The delivery of C-15-80 was a milestone of great importance to the Maestranza because the plane was the first that has been received for this work, in which they had invested about two years. Its successful completion of the program ensured continuity with other F-18 aircraft from the Gando Air Base, Torrejon de Ardoz or Zaragoza, thus ensuring the maintenance of jobs after completion of the program of the "Great Visit" Mirage F-1.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 06-11-2015 18:40:17 ZULU