Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Officer Dirk Hoke, Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles and French Defence Minister Florence Parly attend the unveiling of the French-German-Spanish new generation fighter model.
Paris Air Show
Spain's military still has eyes for the F-35 despite European fighter push.
Two U.S. Air Force F-35 aircraft participate in the Tactical Leadership Program flying course at Llanos Air Base near Albacete, Spain. (Sébastien Raffin/NATO)
MADRID — The Spanish Navy and Air Force are still interested in the American F-35 fighter jet, even though the government is about to join a Franco-German program to develop a new European plane.
The two services are in the beginning stages of an analysis in which the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft is emerging as a key contender, officials told reporters on the sidelines of the FEINDEF defense expo here in late May.
For the Navy, the choice for the short-takeoff-and-landing variant of the jet, dubbed the F-35B, appears to be more clear-cut than for the Air Force. The Spanish Navy wants to replace its 12 Harrier jets, which are launched from the LPH Juan Carlos I. That ship's short, ski-jump deck makes the F-35B the only option on the market, according to Cdr. Antonio Estevan, a staff officer at the service's plans and policy division.