In the coming weeks, Spanish Minister of Defense María Dolores de Cospedal will table her new 15-year investment cycle for weapons systems before the Council of Ministers.
"Considering the most necessary and urgent capabilities, the new investment cycle will begin shortly with seven programs whose cost has been estimated at 10,805 million euros." This is how the document, completed on March 12 by the Secretary of State for Defense, and to which Cadena SER has had access, describes its goal.
The seven programs included in the text are: 8x8 wheel combat vehicles, F-110 frigates, new training aircraft, the modernization of the command and air control system, MRTT refueling aircraft, NH90 naval helicopters and the modernization of Chinook helicopters.
These seven programs constitute the first phase of the New Investment Cycle of the Ministry of Defense, a plan to acquire weapons systems for the next 15 years, which was announced by Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal last Easter.
The execution of this new investment cycle will replace the one planned in the nineties, when Spain embarked on the so-called Special Weapons Programs (PEAS) for which we still owe about 20,000 million euros and which we will continue to pay until 2030.
The debt of the previous cycle is still alive
Eleven special programs of the previous cycle are still in progress, to which are added another twelve that, although already completed, also involve pending payments.
Among the 11 major programs that are still underway are the A400M military transport plane, the Eurofighter fighter, the Tigre combat helicopters and the S-80 submarine. The latter, due to technical problems during its manufacture, and according to Navy sources, will force an increase in the initial cost foreseen for the program (€2,135 million) to €3,685 million, although this increase will not be attributable to the new investment cycle.
Council of Ministers and budgets
According to military sources, María Dolores de Cospedal's department plans to bring the first phase of this new investment cycle to the Council of Ministers in the coming weeks. The process of the Council of Ministers will be the definitive green light for the Ministry's new procurement plan. What Defense has not yet clarified is the financing model of the new plan.
Sources near to the Under Secretary of Defense do not rule out that the annual items are included in the department's regular budget (as is the case with the PEAS), which would help Cospedal to comply with the commitment made to NATO by which, in 2024, Spain has to allocate 1.53% of its Gross Domestic Product to military expenditure.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Spain’s defense expenditure for 2017 is estimated by NATO at 0.92% of GDP, the same as in 2014.
The NATO target, agreed at the Wales summit meeting in 2014, is for national defense spending by all members to increase to 2% of their GDP by 2024.
In January, Cospedal told parliament that Spain would not reach 2%, but would instead attain 1.53% of GDP, conditionally on the national economy performing sufficiently well.)