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Spain - Eurofighter (C.16)

The Eurofighter is the most advanced combat aircraft in Europe and is in service with the air forces of Italy, Germany and Great Britain, among others. These 11th Wing fighter jets have participated in numerous international operations, including the NATO Baltic Air Police Operation twice (2015 and 2018) or the Red Flag exercise in Nevada, United States (2017) on most important of those held in the countries belonging to NATO.

Aircraft that form part of the Spanish Air Force’s resources include Eurofighter (C.16) fighter jet. Based in: 11th Wing in Morón Air Base (Base Aérea de Morón y Ala 11) and 14th Wing in Albacete Air Base (Base Aérea de Albacete y Ala 14). The Eurofighter (known as C.16 in the Air Force) is a combat aircraft that continuously evolves. As a demonstration of this, the Arms and Experimentation Logistics Centre (CLAEX) is currently carrying out the functional evolution of new software to be installed in the Air Force´s C.16 aircraft.

In the 1980s some European NATO countries carried out a joint analysis on the future air threat. In December 1985 the result of this analysis led to the formulation of the requirements for the construction of a new fighter. Spain had joined the project only a couple of months before. In August 1996, the first flight was made from Spanish territory, specifically from Seville. In January 1998 the contract was signed for the production of 620 aircraft for the Air Forces of Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Delivery of the first plane to Spain came in May 2004. The first squadron was created in Ala 11 in Morón. In April 2012 the Eurofighter was integrated into the 142nd Wing 14 Squadron at the Albacete Air Base.

Sources inside Spain's military told a Spanish newspaper that only a handful of the country's Eurofighter Typhoon jets are fully operational and that semi-retired F-18 aircraft were called back into full service to meet NATO commitments. According to Spanish daily El Confidencial Digital 27 October 2014, unnamed military sources warned that the Eurofighter Typhoon air fleet is crippled by breakdowns, lack of spare parts and delayed inspections. The claims came just a day after Spain announced plans to pump €10 billion ($12.7 billion) into new defence programs after six years of cutbacks as a result of the economic crisis. Eurofighters were not, however, named in the list of projects due to receive a funding boost.

Only six Eurofighters in Spain's Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) service in bases at Morón de la Frontera and Albacete are currently capable of taking off, according to military insiders. These jets were kept ready to scramble 24 hours a day, year-round, to intercept suspicious aircraft in Spanish airspace. The rest of Spain's Eurofighter planes allegedly were grounded by breakdowns, missing spare parts and queues for inspections after reaching the maximum number of hours in the air.

A test team from the Air Force´s Arms and Experimentation Logistical Centre (CLAEX) successfully carried out the first launch of an EGBU-16 (GBU-48) bomb from a Tranche-2 C.16. The launch was carried out during the week of June 20–24, 2016 in the waters of the Gulf of Cadiz, and with the support of the CLAEX “El Arenosillo” experimentation centre. This was after the target was identified, a guided launch was performed by GPS signal, and laser illumination was used during the terminal phase by means of a “pod litening-III,” installed on the aircraft. This event meant that a significant increase in the air-ground capabilities of the C.16 fleet has been certified, and this permits the execution of high precision, totally autonomous, “any time” attacks. Moreover, the arms employed enable the C.16 to carry out simultaneous offensives against several ground targets.

The strengthening of the operational capabilities of the Air Force's combat units is the main mission of the Logistics and Armament and Experimentation Logistics Center ( CLAEX ) and all tasks that are carried out in the areas of flight trials, software development, war electronics and armament logistics. Precisely in response to an operational need of an urgent nature required by the crews of C.16 who participated for the first time in the Red Flag exercise at the end of February 2017, CLAEX completed the necessary work to implement also for the first time once a software modification in the fleet of C / CE.16 of Tranche 2 and 3 demonstrating its ability to make changes in all fleet standards (Tranche 1 with OFP-01E and Tranche 2/3 with this modification).

Six Eurofighter fighters from the 11th Wing departed at noon 25 April 2018 from Morón Air Base to Lithuania to participate in NATO's Baltic Air Police (BAP) military operation. Wing 11 participates a second time with its Eurofighters in a BAP mission. This time it will be between the months of May and August, as a continuation of the tasks that she will already perform in 2014 in Estonia.

The Air Force participated 27 June 2018 in the bilateral Atlas-18 exercise, which took place in Morocco, with Eurofighter fighters from Wing 11 (Morón Air Base), Hercules aircraft for in-flight refueling of Wing 31 (Air Base de Zaragoza), operating from their bases in Spain, and with a detachment of five F.18s from Ala 46 (Gando Air Base) deployed at the Meknès Base. This was the first time that the Air Force Eurofighter has carried out missions over the neighboring country. The 11th Wing fighters took off from their Seville base to enter Moroccan airspace and, together with the F.18s of the 46th Wing, carried out combined missions with the Royal Mirage F.1, F.5, F.16 and Alpha Jet Moroccan Air Force. In addition, they made approaches to the bases of Meknès and Sidi Slimane. The Atlas exercise has been held since 1987 and takes place every two years, alternatively in Spain and Morocco. Their objective is to conduct combined air attack and air defense operations, as well as further strengthen the ties that unite the air forces on both sides of the Strait.

On November 13, 2018 it will go down in the history of military aviation as it is the first time that a Eurofighter receives fuel in flight from an A400M. The sky of Spain has witnessed this maneuver that is carried out for the first time in the world. It so happens that the German Luftwaffe, the British RAF and the Air Force are the only three air forces in the world that fly both planes, the A400M and the Eurofighter, and we have been the Spanish in the first place to carry out this refueling. It is also the first time that an Air Force A400M, operated by Wing 31 of the Zaragoza Air Base, performs an in-flight refueling. All this has been done in the flight test plan for the certification of the C.16 Eurofighter fighter plane as a receiver for the TK.23 A400M, in its tanker version.

The Government of Spain on July 9, 2020, announced the launch of negotiations with Airbus on buying 20 additional Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft for the Spanish Air Force. Both parties intend for the contract to be signed in 2021 and for the new aircraft to join Spain Canary Islands Air Command Wing 46 of the Air Force between 2025 and 2030. The Canary Islands Air Command (Mando Aéreo de Canarias - MACAN) is responsible for the defense of the Canary Islands and the only regional command. Spain is set to receive new Eurofighter combat aircraft to augment its existing fleet and to begin the process of replacing its Boeing EF-18 Hornet fleet.

Spanish Air Force 73 ordered Eurofighter fighter, of which 61 had been delivered and 58 in operation as of June 2018. Spain is planning to order 40 more Tranche 3 Eurofighters to replace its F-18 Hornets. These 20 Eurofighter fighters of the Tranche 3+ / Tranche 4 series will feature an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other modifications. For Spain, the AESA would be ‘Radar 1’, development of which is being led by Hensoldt and Indra. Earlier this year, the Spanish Ministry of Defense rejected plans to purchase American Lockheed Martin F-35A fighters for the Air Force, although the possibility of buying a batch of F-35B aircraft for the Spanish Navy is not ruled out.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:05:53 ZULU