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Spanish Navy Considering F-35B to Fill in for Retiring Harriers

Department of Defense & Industry Daily News

Rapid Fire | Friday, April 22, 2016

The Spanish Navy may look to adopt the F-35B in order to cover the shortage that will be left by its AV-8B Harriers, which are due to retire in the next decade. $54.1 million has been allocated by the Defense Ministry to cover the Harrier program from 2014-2024, but little has been planned for what comes after it. The Navy may look at the possibility of a joint strategy with the Spanish Air Force, which is set to retire their fleet of F-18s.


It doesn’t look likely that the F-35 will be sold to any Gulf nation within the next decade, allowing Israel regional exclusivity to the fifth-generation jet fighter. The widely held, but not often articulated belief by many Israeli officials, is that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members will not have access to the fighter until Israel has fully integrated the F-35 into its arsenal. This belief has been given further weight after US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work indicated such a move was unlikely, saying that “right now, we do not have any expectation for selling the F-35 in the near term, beyond the countries that have already bought into the program.”


F-35B May Be In Spanish Navy’s Future

, Defense News10:08 a.m. EDT April 20, 2016

MADRID — The Spanish Navy has a midterm problem to tackle or maybe it would be more accurate to say it has a dilemma the country’s next defense minister must solve: Should the force continue with fixed-wing combat aviation and, if yes, is the F-35B the solution?

According to Admiral Chief of Naval Staff Jaime Muñoz-Delgado, “Our fleet of Harrier aircraft has a useful life until the period between 2025 and 2027. And there is only one short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) option on the market: Lockheed Martin’s F-35B. This is the reality.”

The Spanish naval chief registered the concern Tuesday during a meeting with reporters. The problem with this solution is a limited defense budget.

Nowadays the “Armada Española” has a fleet of 12 AV-8B Harrier II Plus attack planes that formed the core of the 9th Aircraft Squadron more than 30 years ago.

The Spanish Navy Harriers can carry out missions ashore or from the landing helicopter dock Juan Carlos I.

In November 2014, the Ministry of Defense extended the agreement to support the Harrier program after approving an investment of €47.6 million (US $54.1 million) between 2014 and 2024.

“There isn’t an official plan or proposal to pursue the acquisition of F-35Bs but the problem will be there in 10 years,” Muñoz-Delgado stressed.

He mentioned the possibility of a joint strategy with the Spanish Air Force, which in the 2020s will need to start thinking about replacing its F-18s.

The US Marine Corps’ F-35B reached initial operational capability last July 31. The variant is also being delivered to the UK, and the Italian Air Force will also operate it.

AV-8B Harrier

The Harrier II Plus (AV-8B), manufactured by BAE SYSTEMS and Boeing, is a VSTOL fighter and attack aircraft operational with the US Marine Corps (USMC), the Spanish Navy and the Italian Navy. The Harrier II Plus extends the capabilities of the Harrier with the introduction of a multi-mode radar and beyond-visual-range missile capability.

The USMC received the first AV-8B in 1993. It has 215 aircraft. The Italian Navy has 18 and the Spanish Navy 17.

Contractor: McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (Airframe Prime), Rolls Royce (Engine Prime)
Power Plant: ·  TAV-8B/AV-8B Day Attack (DA): One Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-406 turbofan engine with approximately 20,280 pounds of thrust

·  AV-8B Night Attack (NA)/AV-8B Radar: One Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-408A turbofan engine with approximately 22,200 pounds of thrust

Accommodations: ·  AV-8B DA/NA/Radar Aircraft: Pilot only

·  TAV-8B Trainer: Two seats

Performance: ·  Maximum airspeed: 550 KCAS

·  Range greater than 142 nautical miles high speed/low altitude combat radius

·  Maximum range: 900 nautical miles

Countermeasures: Not applicable
Armament: ·  One fuselage-mounted 25 mm gun system

·  Standard Air-to-Ground (A/G) load: Six Mk 82, 500 pound bombs

·  Standard Air-to-Air (A/A) load: Four AIM-9L/M Sidewinder missiles

·  Provisions for carrying up to 9,000 pounds of ordnance on seven stations

Mission and Capabilities: ·  The AV-8B single seat Vertical/Short Takeoff and Land (V/STOL) aircraft is the primary close air support/intermediate range intercept/attack mission fixed-wing aircraft for the USMC and the Spanish and Italian navies.

·  The AV-8B can carry and deliver an assortment of conventional stores such as the Mk 83 1,000 pound GP bomb, GBU-12 500 pound LGB, GBU-16 1,000 LGB, CBU-99/100 Cluster Bomb Units, and 2.75″ and 5″ rockets.

·  The NA configuration includes: night vision goggle-compatible cockpit controls and displays, a wide-field-of-view HUD, a Navigation Forward Looking Infrared (NAVFLIR) system, a Digital Map Unit (DMU), and an Angle Rate Bombing System (ARBS) with laser spot tracker, which provides first pass day or night target strike capability at low altitude/high speed.

·  The Radar aircraft retains all night attack capability but integrates the AN/APG-65 radar system to extend the tracking capabilities of the aircraft for A/G delivery and A/A defense modes.

·  V/STOL capability allows the AV-8B to be deployed with ground units using amphibious shipping and/or forward basing for rapid close air support response.

Program Summary: ·  All three variants of the AV-8B are in service with the USMC (deployed in WestPac and the Mediterranean).

·  The Spanish Navy has DA/Radar AV-8Bs.

·  The Italian Navy has Radar AV-8Bs only.

·  The U.S., Italy, and Spain are partners in a collaborative international program.

·  The original DA AV-8B was replaced by the NA variant in 1990, which incorporated the F402-RR-408A engine and expanded night fighting systems such as NAVFLIR, DMU, night vision goggle capability, and wide-field-of-view HUD.

·  In 1993, the Radar AV-8B was fielded with the full night fighting capability and an AN/APG-65 Radar set to improve A/G and A/A tactical effectiveness.

·  In 1994, the U.S. began a remanufacturing process to convert DA AV-8Bs to the Radar configuration (REMAN); deliveries began in 1996.

·  Currently, a NA/Radar AV-8B upgrade program is underway to incorporate an Automatic Target Handoff System (ATHS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) capability into the aircraft.

·  ATHS allows direct digital target/mission data exchange between the pilot and ground units. GPS integration improves navigational and weapons delivery accuracy.

·  The AV-8B has seen service in the Persian Gulf (Desert Storm), Somalia (both U.S. and Italian AV-8Bs), and Bosnia (peacekeeping operations).

·  A total of 51 Radar Aircraft are authorized for procurement by the U.S., Italy, and Spain.

·  The U.S. has a planned procurement/delivery program for 73 REMAN AV-8Bs (FY 1996 – 2002).

See details of F-35: HEREXPIyZN7

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