Military Aviation

“Discussions with Spain about an F-35 order continue despite Madrid denial,” Lockheed Martin says

Despite a firm denial by Madrid, discussions continue with the Spanish government about a potential future order of F-35B and F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters a Lockheed Martin executive says.

Despite a firm denial by Madrid, discussions continue with the Spanish government about a potential future order of F-35B and F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters a Lockheed Martin executive says.

On Nov.16 at the Dubai Airshow Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Greg Ulmer told ShowNews “They have an aircraft carrier, and they’re going to have to replace the Harrier, so our approach into Spain is really through that.”

Ulmer added, referring to the short-takeoff and vertical-landing variant. “Obviously, we see the [F-35] B-model to be that. We’re also talking to them about potentially A-models as well.”

As reported by Aviation Week Network, last week a spokeswoman for the Spanish Ministry of Defense said the government had “ruled out” an order for the F-35 in favor of the country’s participation in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. The spokeswoman was responding to comments by Lockheed executives on a third-quarter earnings call with analysts, where Spain was listed as a potential F-35 buyer.

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It was first reported that the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon were ‘the two options’ Spain was evaluating to replace its aging fleet of 70 EF-18A Hornet fighter jets.

According to Ulmer, Lockheed remains in discussions with Spanish government officials, despite the ministry’s denial.

“I understand there’s a different [statement] that they’ve come out with, but we continue to hear from them that there’s interest in F-35,” Ulmer pointed out.

Lockheed Martin also sees the F-35A as a candidate for planned fighter purchases by the Czech Republic and Greece.

In 2027 a nearly two-decade-old lease agreement by the Czech Republic for Saab Gripen C/D fighters. The F-16 and the F-35A were evaluated as a potential replacement by the company, but Ulmer said that Lockheed Martin settled on offering the Lightning II due to the “complexity” of the Czech Republic’s requirement. Offering Prague leased or used F-35As is not likely.

“I don’t see a way from an F-35-lease perspective off the top of my head,” Ulmer said.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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