The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, has transferred by letter to her French and German counterparts, Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen, the Government's firm interest in being part of the future European fighter of the 21st century, better known as the New-Generation Weapon System (NGWS) being conducted by France and Germany.
In her letter, Robles requests that the Spanish participation be formalized by the signature of a Letter of Intent (LOI) or a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The cost of being a partner in program is estimated at around 25 million euros for the next two years.
The NGWS aims to be the fifth-generation fighter aircraft that will replace European fighters in service, such as the Eurofighter and the Rafale, starting in 2040.
Currently, two projects aspire to be the European 21st Century fighter: the Franco-German program and the British Tempest, which the Netherlands and Italy have joined. The Ministry of Defense is convinced that both programs will eventually merge, given the huge investment that requires its development.
Despite this, and with the interest to participate in the project from its initial phase, Spain has decided to join the project alongside Paris and Berlin.
The NGWS is conceived as a manned fighter aircraft developed to operate in conjunction with a swarm of drones that will serve both as weapons platforms and advanced sensors. In turn, the NGWS will be integrated into a range of systems (the Future Combat Air System or FCAS) which will include the medium-altitude, long-range drone (MALE, in which Spain participates with a 23% share) as well as satellites or cruise missiles.
Over the next few years, and before 2025, the Air Force must replace the first 20 US-supplied F-18 fighters deployed in the base of Gando (Canary Islands); and by 2030, the remaining 65.