The Spanish government denied media reports that it was considering an order of Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets.
The reports are based on comments made by a Lockheed-Martin official to Jane’s on the sideline of a Royal Institute of International Affairs session in early November 2021.
It was rumored that both the Spanish Air Force and Navy were respectively considering the F-35A and the F-35B to replace the aging F/A-18 Hornets of the former and the antique AV-8 Harrier II of the latter, operating from the Juan Carlos I aircraft carrier.
But on November 8, 2021, the Spanish Ministry of Defence dismissed the rumors.
“The Spanish government has no budget to enter into any other jet project in addition to the one that is already in place,” a spokesperson at the ministry told Reuters. “We rule out entering the F35 project. Our investment commitment is in the FCAS.”
In June 2020, the Spanish Ministry of Defence confirmed its participation in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program started by France and Germany.
However, Spain acquiring the F-35 aircraft would have undermined its position in the European partnership. Additionally, it could have required the transfer of strategic data on the FCAS to the United States for the two systems to coexist within the fleet of the Ejército del Aire, the Spanish Air Force.