WASHINGTON — Spain has no interest in the American F-35 fighter jet and is solely committed to the Future Combat Air System that it is pursuing with France and Germany, a defense spokeswoman told Reuters.
The statement comes after Spanish officials at a defense exhibition in Madrid last week said the Lockheed Martin-made plane was a least a theoretical contender for the Spanish Navy and, if the sea service were to select it, the Air Force.
“The Spanish government has no budget to enter into any other jet project in addition to the one that is already in place. We rule out entering the F-35 project. Our investment commitment is in the FCAS,” Reuters quoted a defense ministry spokeswoman as saying in a Nov. 9 report.
Rejection of the F-35 comes after speculation on social media the country was actively looking into a purchase, based on a separate report in the London-based Janes defense publication last week. That article cited information about a Lockheed Martin F-35 sales campaign in Europe, including in Spain, as coming from “an official,” with no affiliation given.
The case of the prospective F-35 sale to Madrid was particularly sensitive, as Spain is working to establish itself as an equal partner with Germany and France in the FCAS program. Giving the impression of flirting with the American product at the same time would have undercut Madrid’s aspirations toward that end.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.