Spain intends to participate as a full partner in the future european hunting of the TWENTY-first century, more commonly known as Weapons System of New Generation (NGWS), which drive France and Germany. So what has formally asked the Defence minister, Margarita Robles, who has sent separate letters to their counterparts in French and German, Florence Parly, and Ursula von der Leyen, in which they moved the firm by the Government form part of the project of franco-German and asked to sign the agreement for the full accession of Spain.
The NGWS aspires to be the combat aircraft of the fifth generation that it replaced, from 2040 onwards, the fighters in european service, such as the Eurofighter and the Rafale.
despite the fact that the dispersion of efforts has hurt the europeans in front of their competitors americans, because there are two projects struggling to be the eurocaza of the TWENTY-first century: the agenda of the franco-German; and the british Tempest, have joined the Netherlands and Italy.
The Spanish Government is convinced that both programs will end up merging into one, given the huge investment required for their development, but so far has decided to join the project of Paris and Berlin. The reason is clear: if the aviation industry and Spanish electronic you want to participate in the production of future weapon system has to be present from its initial phase.
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The sources consulted argue that, although Airbus Defence & Space (of the Spanish Society of Industrial Participations, SEPI, owns a 4,17%) participates in the project, along with the French Dassault Aviation, this does not guarantee work load for the 12,000 employees it has in Spain.
“we Want to be partners and not clients. We need access to the data and provide our industrial capabilities”, warned last month in Berlin, the general Leon Antonio Machés, of the Directorate-General of Armament and Material (DGAM).
In December 2017, the then minister of Defense, María Dolores of Cospedal, since he asked to join the NGWS, but the French and germans gave in to that moment with the door in the face. The argument was that, escarmentados by the experience of programmes such as the Eurofighter or the A400M, they do not want anyone else involved in the initial design of the aircraft. Spain had to settle with the role of a mere observer.
The situation has changed, according to sources in the Spanish Ministry of Defense. So deducted from technical negotiations that have been maintained in the last few weeks and the contacts of the minister and Oaks with their counterparts. The emergence as riuval of the Tempest british and the fact that it is necessary the participation of a third country in the EU to receive european funds have helped in the change of posture, according to experts.
the Defense expects that as soon as possible is finalized the incorporation of Spanish, by the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI, in its acronym Betsmove in English) or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) tripartite. The cost of membership in the program is estimated to be around 25 million euros for the next two years, according to sources of Defense, a relatively modest amount, because it is still in a phase very early.
The request to join comes at a time decisívo. Following the agreement signed with Germany last June, the French minister announced on 20 November that in mid-2019 will be launched the design of the prototypes of the aircraft and the engine.
The NGWS is conceived as a jet fighter pilot developed to operate in conjunction with a ejambre of drones that will make weapons platforms and advanced sensors. In turn, the NGWS will be integrated in a panoply (the Air Combat System Future or FCAS), which form part of the drone medium altitude long range (MALE, in which Spain participates with 23%), satellites or cruise missiles.
the Army of The Air should be replaced before 2025, the 20 u.s. fighters F-18 deployed at the base of Gando (Canary islands); and by 2030 the 65 remaining. Although the formal decision will not be taken up to 2019, the Defense has already ruled out purchase of the fighters F-35 americans and assume that they will be replaced by the latest version of the Eurofighter. “It seems that there is a confluence of criteria very important for the replacement of the F-18 is the Eurofighter. That decision [...] would guarantee a good transition between the Eurofighter and the future european hunting”, said the secretary of State for Defence, Angel Olivares, on the 30th of October.
12,000 million in weapons programs
even Though the Government has resigned to take forward the General Budgets of the State by 2019, the Ministry of Defence trust approve three new weapons programs before the end of the year. It is the construction of five frigates F-110, by 4,000 million euros; the first 348 units of the combat vehicle on wheels of the Land Army (VCR 8x8), by 1,500 million; and the upgrade of the Eurofighter, by another 1,000 million.
The upgrade of the Eurofighter is to prevent the fighters spaniards are out of phase with respect to the allies. Not acometerla “means the level of availability of the fleet in the short term and would leave the weapons system obsolete in the medium term”, according to Olivares.
The three programs add up to 6,500 million euros, which are added to 5.369 already approved: additional costs of the S-80 submarines (1.772), communications satellites (1.397), modernization of the Chinook helicopters (819), and the purchase of 23 helicopters NH-90 (1.381). In total, nearly 12,000 billion in weapons programs, will receive the green light with the Government of Pedro Sanchez, although all of them were prepared by the Executive of Mariano Rajoy that it was delaying its approval.