From the lyric (and the good words) to prose (and the recovery of investments). This is the state of demand in which the Armed Forces are today who, already with relief for having a Government without being in office and with new Jemad, request Budgets according to the operational capacity that a country like Spain intends to have in the context of the EU post-Brexit and after a crisis (2008-2014) that took a third of the investment in the Defense Budget of Spain without recovering again.
Within the most urgent capacities, military sources alert ABC about the situation of the Air Force, and its air projection capacity in this decade if new investments do not arrive: «Not already in the long term like the future European fighter plane FCAS, in which Spain participates with Germany and France, which is a project that will give results in 2040-2045, but imminent investments ».
2023, a critical year
Until 2023 the room for maneuver is low, sources say. On that date it is expected that the Air Force will cause four of its aircraft fleets to drop: the 12-15 F-18 Hornet fighters of the Canary Air Command, in service since 1986; the three P3 Orion maritime surveillance flying since 1973; the Falcon 20 specialized in electronic warfare; and the 8 Airbus CN-235 maritime surveillance.
«Everything will be staggered but 2023 is a key date for the Air Force. Not to mention that although some airplanes are not finally decommissioned for operational reasons, it is very difficult to repair them for lack of spare parts in the market, ”they explain.
In addition, in 2027 the combat training aircraft must also be lowered: 12-15 Northrop F-5M Freedom Fighter operating aircraft, from Wing 23 of Talavera la Real (Badajoz), which train 8-10 Air Force pilots at year.
“On the other hand, there are missing tankers, strategic transport and electronic warfare since the four Boeing 707s that performed these functions were decommissioned. Nothing has been done for two decades and now we will pay it; In the last decade the Air Force has lost 40 percent of its flight hours, the situation is unsustainable, ”they warn.
And so it is reflected in internal documentation that the Air Force manages and that will be presented in future meetings both to the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, and to the new Chief of Defense Staff, General Miguel Ángel Villarroya, which is precisely of the Air Force and who knows the situation in the Canary Islands with the F-18 where he was head of the Canary Islands Air Command between July 2015 and April 2017.
The solution to replace the fortnight of F-18 operating in the archipelago is to open an international competition to buy new planes or move to the Canary Islands other F-18 planes, from the bases of Torrejón or Zaragoza, or Eurofighter, from Seville or Albacete .
Even one of the possibilities that was thought was to establish some type of rotating mission for the Canary Islands with airplanes and endowments from the Peninsula to adopt a kind of temporary solution.
The relay of maritime surveillance aircraft (P-3 Orion, used in missions in the Mediterranean or against piracy in Indian waters, or Airbus CN-235) could be relieved by variants of the Airbus C-295 that is manufactured in Seville, although there is still no concrete plan on this possibility.
But beyond airplanes, another military source warns that the situation also affects the personnel: since the economic crisis the Air Force has lost 4,000 troops (14% of the personnel). If in 2008 it had 27,750, now there are 23,600 (December 2019 data). Not to mention that many soldiers are being pre-retired with 45 years. In addition, civilian personnel has been reduced by another 45%, being “critical their loss for maintenance work”.
From 2008 to 2018, current expenses were reduced by 49.7%, and investments by 78%. Nothing has been recovered since then, the total flight hours of all its units in 2007 were 95,000 while in 2019 they were 65,000. .