Oct 13, 2018

Spain procures Aeronautics Orbiter UAVs

The Spanish Ministry of Defence has selected the Aeronautics Orbiter 3 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to help monitor its forces' bases during overseas missions.
The Israeli company was up against the Fulmar, designed by Thales' Spanish arm, but its Madrid-based distributor, Aicox Soluciones, confirmed on 8 October that Aeronautics had won the EUR3.1 million (USD3.6 million) deal.
The Orbiter 3 was tested by Spain's Brigada de la Legion at the beginning of 2018 as part of the country's ongoing Rapaz UAV trials programme.
The contract will cover two systems comprising three UAVs each, with logistical support provided by Aicox Soluciones.
The Orbiter 3 was specially designed for the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role that the Spanish are seeking to protect their troops on overseas missions.
David Ing-janes

China confirms Development of ‘new long-range strategic bomber’, The 'Hong-20' 'H-20'

China’s official state-run media has confirmed the designation of the country’s newest long-range strategic bomber, with analysts speculating that the prototype is expected to make its first flight soon.
In a documentary reportedly broadcast in August, China Central Television referred to the “Hong-20” as the “new long-range strategic bomber” under development for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, or PLAAF, confirming for the first time the H-20 designation that has previously been used elsewhere to describe the program.
The documentary added that “great progress” is being made on the Hong-20’s development, although it did not provide other details. “Hong” is the standard abbreviation for the term “Hongzhaji,” or bomber in Chinese, although this is usually shortened to just the “H” in Western literature.
It’s been reported that Chinese military officials said a new strategic bomber should be capable of striking targets beyond the second island chain without aerial refueling while carrying a payload of at least 10 metric tons, leading to speculation that targets such as Hawaii would be within range of cruise missiles launched by the new bomber.
The bomber is expected to complement the Xian H-6K in Chinese service. A development of the Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-16 Badger, the H-6K features more powerful engines and a totally revised, modern avionics suite. It is also capable of launching cruise missiles.

First Flight of the Series Production Embraer KC-390

First Embraer KC-390 achieved another important milestone today with the completion of the maiden flight of the first series production multi-mission medium airlift KC-390. As agreed with the Brazilian Air Force, the aircraft will now join the flight test campaign, in which more than 1,900 flight hours have already been logged. Civil certification of the basic aircraft will be granted by Brazilian aviation authority ANAC (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil) and is expected to be achieved very soon.

Albania's graveyard of MiGs to become NATO air base

Long the graveyard of its once mighty air force, Albania’s base at Kucova is set to become a NATO station - to the delight of its former airmen longing to hear the engines roar again.
Albania retired its 224 Soviet- and Chinese-made MiGs in 2005, and since 2009 NATO neighbors Italy and Greece monitor its airspace. That led to economic decline in and around Kucova, which was called “Stalin City” during the era of Communist rule.
NATO will spend over 50 million euros ($58 million) on the first stage of work to turn Kucova into a support base for supplies, logistics, training and drills, Xhacka said.
Albania feels it has earned such a transformation at the base for helping maintain stability in the Balkans and contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions around the world.

Oct 12, 2018

U.S. Military, And Operators Worlwide Ground Their F-35s To Look For Faulty Fuel Tubes

The U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy have all stopped flying their F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, as have international operators, in order to inspect and potentially replace faulty fuel tubes common to all three variants of the aircraft, a process that should thankfully only last one or two days. Investigators looking into the cause or causes of a Marine F-35B crash in September 2018 uncovered the issue, which comes amid a Pentagon-mandated effort to boost the Joint Strike Fighter's availability rates and raises serious questions about increased reliance on a single family of combat jets.
The Pentagon's central F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) announced the grounding on Oct. 11, 2018. The inciting incident occurred on Sept. 28, 2018, when an F-35B from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron Five Zero One (VMFAT-501) crashed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina. The pilot of that aircraft was able to safely eject, but the stealth fighter was a total loss.

Australia grounds Joint Strike Fighter fleet after US Marine Corps F-35 in catastrophic engine failure and crash

The crash and destruction of one of America's most sophisticated and expensive combat warplanes — an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — has led to the immediate grounding of Australia's entire fleet of the aircraft.
The Royal Australian Airforce has taken delivery of nine F-35s from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and all are now sitting idle at their American training base in Arizona.
Australia is the latest among global partners in the Joint Strike Fighter program to order groundings of their planes as a precaution.
n a statement, the Australian Defence Force confirmed that "the F-35 fleet has been instructed to conduct safety inspections across all delivered engines".

Oct 7, 2018

U.S. Air Force deploys F-15s, C-130 in Ukraine for the first time for Clear Sky exercise

F-15C Eagles from the 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif., have arrived at Starokostiantyniv Air Base, Ukraine, to participate in Clear Sky 2018, a joint and multinational exercise that will involve personnel from nine nations, including Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Additionally, a C-130J Super Hercules from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif., has arrived at Vinnytsia AB, Ukraine, to participate in the exercise.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of collaboration between the California Air National Guard and Ukraine as part of U.S. European Command's State Partnership Program, and the exercise will include robust participation of California ANG units.
Training will focus on air sovereignty, air interdiction, air-to-ground integration, air mobility operations, aeromedical evacuation, cyber defense, and personnel recovery.
This exercise aims to enhance regional capabilities to secure air sovereignty and promote peace and security through cooperation, collaboration and interoperability with NATO partners and other allies in the region.

Oct 6, 2018

French Mirage 2000s carried out air strikes in Burkina Faso

A la demande des autorités militaires burkinabè, la force Barkhane est immédiatement intervenue.
Un drone Reaper a été dirigé vers la zone tandis que deux Mirage 2000 et un avion ravitailleur C135 ont décollé sous très faible préavis de la base aérienne projetée de Niamey pour rallier la zone de l’attaque. Une colonne de plusieurs motos quittant la zone en direction du nord a été détectée par le drone Reaper. Après avoir observé le comportement du groupe et levé le doute sur la nature terroriste de celui-ci, une frappe aérienne a été réalisée dans la nuit par les deux Mirage 2000. Le bilan de l’action est en cours d’évaluation.

UK in talks to buy Boeing E-7 Wedgetail

The British Ministry of Defense (MOD) is in talks with Boeing to acquire the E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control System.
The MOD said after a market analysis and discussions with providers of other systems it had concluded the E-7 Wedgetail was the most cost-effective aircraft available and potentially could be used in collaboration with Australia, an ally and member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing treaty.
The British Ministry of Defense (MOD) is in talks with Boeing to acquire the E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control System.
The MOD said after a market analysis and discussions with providers of other systems it had concluded the E-7 Wedgetail was the most cost-effective aircraft available and potentially could be used in collaboration with Australia, an ally and member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing treaty.

Japan to develop own fighter jet to replace F-2

The Japan's Ministry of Defense has decided to develop a new aircraft to succeed the F-2 fighter, as proposals from three American and British companies for a replacement failed to meet the ministry's costs and capability requirements.
The ministry plans to incorporate the project into the next five-year mid-term defense program to be drawn up at the end of the year, with an eye on a joint development program with foreign companies to lower the overall financial burden, which could reach trillions of yen. The ministry also hopes to pursue introducing main components such as the engine that incorporate Japan's own technology.

Canada cleared to buy 3 King Air 350ER ISR aircraft

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Canada of three (3) King Air 350ER (extended range) aircraft with customer unique post-modifications for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations for an estimated cost of $300 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on October 3, 2018.
The Government of Canada has requested to buy three (3) King Air 350ER (extended range) aircraft with customer unique post-modifications for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations; three (3) WESCAM MX-15D Electro-Optical & Infrared Imaging Sensors; three (3) AN/AAR-47B(V)2 Missile and Laser Warning System (MWS); three (3) AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Systems (CMDS); three (3) VORTEX® Dual RF Ku LOS Transceivers; three (3) COMSEC Modules (KGV-135A); two (2) APM-424(V)5 Transponder Test Sets; five (5) KIV-77 Mode 4/5 crypto applique computers for IFF; three (3) AN/APX-119 IFF Digital Civil and Military Transponders; six (6) ARC-210 Multi-mode Voice and Data Transceivers; three (3) KG-250X NSA-Certified Type 1 Inline Network Encryptors (INE); technical data; mission equipment, communication and navigation equipment, special tools and test equipment, ground support equipment, airframe and engine spare parts, publications, MWO/ECPs, technical assistance, repair and return, training; and transportation of aircraft, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Total estimated program cost is $300 million.


MD Helicopters announced today receipt of the third Delivery Order issued against its 5-year, $1.4 billion light scout attack helicopter IDIQ contract. The firm, fixed-price award is for six (6) armed MD 530G Scout Attack Helicopters to be delivered to the Lebanon Air Force (LAF), and includes initial logistics support (ILS) for the aircraft, as well as aircraft systems, ground support equipment, and associated services.
Awarded through U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, MDHI’s new MD 530G will receive a U.S. Army Airworthiness Release (AWR) by December 2019. All MD 530G aircraft deliveries to the Lebanon Air Force will be complete by the fourth quarter of 2020.
“The Armed MD 530G Scout Attack Helicopter is a masterpiece in design and innovation,” said Lynn Tilton, Chief Executive Officer for MD Helicopters, Inc. “With advanced avionics, integrated weapons and mission management systems, and an armament suite that delivers both precision lethality and suppressive fire capabilities, we are honored to receive this order, and look forward to delivering these highly capable aircraft to the Lebanon Air Force.”

France to provide Two Second Hand Mirage 2000 aircraft to Indian Air Force

Seeking to bolster its Mirage-2000 fighter jet fleet, India is getting two of these at a dirt-cheap price of Rs 16 crore per aircraft from France. The two aircraft would be later upgraded to the highest standards by the HAL.
The French are offering the planes at Euro 2 million per aircraft and the cost of transporting the planes to India would be around Euro one million. So, at Euro five million (approx Rs 40 crore), India will get two aircraft with a life of 3,000 hours left in them.
The aircraft would also help in utilising the upgrade kits that had been ordered during the Mirage 2000 upgrade contract with France. India had a fleet of 51 Mirages but the number came down to 49 after the loss of two planes in quick succession around 2012-13.
The two Mirages coming from France would help in making up the fleet strength back to 51.
India is also getting a fleet of 32 Jaguar aircraft, which are supposed to be used as spares to support the current fleet of Jaguar fighters operated by India. The 100 Jaguar aircraft strong fleet would also help in maintaining force levels and combat the delay in procuring jets beyond the 4 plus generation fighter aircraft such as Rafale due to the Congress government impeding the decision-making.

Sep 29, 2018

China criticizes USAF B-52 bomber missions as ‘provocative’

China on Thursday labeled a recent mission by nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bombers over the disputed South China Sea as “provocative,” and said the U.S. was solely responsible for a recent downturn in relations between their militaries.
Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang also reiterated at a monthly briefing China’s objections to a recent U.S. arms sale to Taiwan and the imposition of U.S. sanctions over China’s purchase of Russian defense equipment.
"As for the provocative action taken by the U.S. military aircraft, we are firmly against it and we will take all necessary means to safeguard our rights and interests," Ren said.
Two B-52s flew over the strategic waterway, largely claimed by China, earlier this week in what the Pentagon called a routine mission. Separately, two B-52s also flew this week over the East China Sea, where China has declared an air defense identification zone and claims uninhabited islands controlled by Japan.
China has sought to strengthen its claim to the South China Sea by building seven islands on reefs and equipping them with military facilities such as airstrips, radar domes and missile systems. Five other governments claim territory in the oil- and gas-rich area through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes annually.

Sep 28, 2018

France receives first A330 MRTT Phénix tanker-transport aircraft

The French Air Force (Armée de l’Air: AdlA) has received into service the first of an expected 12 Airbus Defence and Space (DS) A330-200 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.
One of the nine Phénix aircraft currently under contract arrived at its future-home station of Airbase 125 at Istres-Le Tubé on 27 September. The remaining eight aircraft and a further three that are expected to be ordered are all due to be delivered to the AdlA by 2023.
Set to replace the AdlA’s Boeing KC-135R and C-135FR tankers, as well as the Airbus A340 and A310 passenger transports, the Phénix is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

France wants to buy Airbus A330MRTT tankers sooner

France renewed a pledge to speed up by two years delivery of 12 Airbus A330 multirole transport tanker jets for the French Air Force by 2023.
A further three units will be ordered to bring the total fleet to 15 in the following years.
That boost for inflight refuelling was among the equipment modernization measures included in the 2019-2025 military budget law, formally signed by French president Emmanuel Macron on July 13.
The French Air Force has long lobbied for renewing the aerial capability, as the present aging tanker fleet is a key element in the airborne nuclear deterrent. French air operations in allied operations in the sub-Saharan Sahel region and the Middle East rely heavily on U.S. air tankers.
The A330 MRTT will replace a mixed fleet of C-135FR and KC-135R tankers — some of which are close to 60 years old — and A310 and A340 strategic troop and transport aircraft..

Germany to buy six C-130 Hercules

Germany’s armed forces will spend almost 970 million euros ($1.14 billion) buying six C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which in contrast to the A400M from Airbus can land on smaller, more rocky landing strips.
The budget committee of the Bundestag lower house of parliament gave the green light for the procurement of the machines from U.S.
The package includes the procurement of spare parts, maintenance of the aircraft in the first three years and the initial training of technical and aviation personnel.
The C-130 Hercules will stationed in Evreux in Normandy where France already operates the same type of aircraft.
Germany sharply curtailed military spending after the end of the Cold War, but began boosting spending again after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014.
A report this year found missing spare parts and quality defects mean less than half of Germany’s submarines, warplanes and some other key weapons are ready for use.

First F-35 UK Deck Landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth

According MoD twetter acount today has been the first F-35 landing on the deck of Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth.

USMC F-35B conducts first combat strike in Afghanistan

The Marine Corps F-35B, Lightning II, conducted its first combat strike in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Sept. 27.
During this mission, the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander.
The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is the first combat-deployed MEU to replace the AV-8B Harrier with the F-35B Lightning II. The F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 are currently embarked on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) as part of Essex Amphibious Ready Group

US Marines F-35 jet crashes in South Carolina; incident comes same week plane flew first combat mission

An F-35B fighter jet crashed near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina late Friday morning, military officials said, just days after the cutting-edge aircraft flew its first combat mission in Afghanistan.
“At approximately 11:45, a 2D Marine Aircraft Wing F-35B impacted near the Broad River in Beaufort County. The pilot safely ejected and is being examined by medical personnel,” Marine Corps officials said in a statement.
The incident, which is under investigation, comes during the same week the aircraft was first used in a combat zone.
F-35B fighters with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 flew their first combat missions in Afghanistan this week, military officials said Thursday, launching air strikes in support of “ground clearance operations.”

Sep 23, 2018

Royal Thailand Air Force expands fleet with Four additional H225M order

Airbus Helicopters has secured an additional order of four H225M (previously known as EC725) multirole utility helicopters from the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), as part of the fleet strengthening programme. This follow-on order will bring the RTAF’s H225M fleet to 12 units by 2021.
The H225Ms have served the Royal Thai Air Force well since the delivery of its first batch in 2015

F-16 Block 72 Viper Has Been Offered to Bulgaria

Lockheed Martin offered to the Bulgarian Government the purchase of the F-16V Block 72 fighter, known as Viper
The senior manager at the U.S. company announced that the company is ready to offer to the Bulgarian Government systems, simulators and service till the end of their life cycle. The F-16V Block 72 fighter is fourth generation with renovated radar and information systems operating in real time, systems protecting the aircraft against crash on the land, systems following the life cycle of the pilot and saving him/her in case of loss of consciousness, as well as systems with big range of operation and accuracy of the firearms.

Canada Armed Forces Retiring Sea King on December 1st

The Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Armed Forces, Royal Canadian Air Force, and Canada will say farewell to the workhorse of the air force, the CH-124 Sea King helicopter in late November/early December 2018.
This ship-borne maritime helicopter has been in operation serving Canada since 1963.
In honour of this historic finale, the Royal Canadian Air Force is inviting current and former military members, their families, and government dignitaries to join them in Victoria, BC, for a two-day retirement event.
The celebration starts with a Friday 30th November ‘Meet and Greet’ at CFB Esquimalt’s Wardroom; followed the next day by a Sea King Retirement Parade at 443 MH Squadron and Sea King Ceremonial Fly Past on the 443 MH Squadron Flightline in Pat Bay, and; ending on a high note with a ‘Formal Retirement Dinner’ on the Saturday evening in the 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s new hangar Arundel Castle.

Sep 11, 2018

First Flight Of First Indigenous Turkish Helicopter T625

Turkey’s first indigenous helicopter, the T625, made its maiden flight — hovering for a few minutes a little bit above ground level.
Built by TAI, the T625 is a dual purpose (civilian and military) utility platform suitable for search and rescue, ambulance, VIP, transport and fire extinguishing missions in addition to standard military utility purposes.
Turkey says it designed the T625 locally, though industry sources note that the platform has strong resemblance to the AW139, made by the Italian-British AgustaWestland.

Sep 9, 2018

France receives first two Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft

The French Air Force has received its first two PC-21 training aircraft, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), France's defence procurement agency, announced on 31 August. The advanced trainers arrived at the FAF's fighter training school in Cognac on 30 August for checks.
Babcock Mission Critical Services France, with Pilatus as a subcontractor, will provide a fleet of 17 PC-21s, two full mission and three training simulators, mission preparation systems, and support and associated infrastructure for eight years. Delivery is scheduled to be completed in 2019 and training in the middle of that year.

USAF acknowledged The Crash On An RQ-4 Global Hawk Off the Coast Of Spain Last June

After two months of silence, military U.S. officials have acknowledged the crash and recovery of an Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle from the Atlantic after the massive surveillance drone crashed off the coast of Spain in late June.
The Northrop aircraft was assigned to 348th Reconnaissance Squadron out of Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. The Global Hawk went down in the Gulf of Cadiz near the U.S. Navy’s base in Rota, Spain. The crash occurred at about 11 a.m. EDT on June 26.
Navy and Air Force assets were quickly dispatched to help recover the downed Global Hawk, including fleet oiler USNS Arctic (T-AOE-8) as well as a KC-135 refueler from the 100th Air Refueling Wing out of Zaragoza Air Base, Spain. The Global Hawk was taken to Naval Station Rota after the recovery.
The image of the recovered fuselageshows damage to the engine cowling and shorn metal at the rear of the aircraft. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation by the U.S. Air Combat Command.
The crash is the second time in a year the U.S. Air Force has lost a Global Hawk, with a unit cost of $123 million apiece, according to Fiscal Year 2015 figures.

Phase I complete for Navy’s range support aircraft replacement

The Tactical Airlift Program Office (PMA-207) Commercial Modifications and Range Support (CMARS) Team accepted delivery of their newest commercial-derivative aircraft platform, July 30.
The Gulfstream G550, with structural modifications, was further modified to house specialized telemetry equipment, unique to the Navy’s application. The G550 is slated to serve as the replacement for one of the aging P-3 range support aircraft operated out of NAWCWD in Point Mugu, California. The aircraft’s AEW structural modifications allow room for installation of a telemetry system and additional equipment to support future missions.

First Flight of First Rafale for Indian Air Force

As the Rafale deal continues to be at the centre of a political maelstrom, only one of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft will be supplied from France to India until the end of the contract period in April 2022 with India-Specific Enhancements.
The balance 35 aircraft will start being delivered to India beginning September 2019 but they will be incorporated with these enhancements in India itself after the contract period at the rate of seven aircraft per month.
The “delivery of 36 Rafale aircraft in a fly-away condition along with associated equipment and weapons will commence from September 2019 and will be completed by April 2022.”
However, it will be only in September 2022 that the full complement of 36 Rafale aircraft will be available with IAF with the India-Specific Enhancements in place.
Government sources have often claimed that by negotiating a deal where the supply of 36 French jets would be completed by April 2022, it has saved five months off the UPA-era negotiations to meet the urgent operational requirements of the IAF.

Pilot Error Behind Firing of AIM-120C in Estonia During Nato Baltic Air Policing

An internal Spanish military investigation has concluded that the accidental firing of an air-to-air missile in Estonian airspace by a NATO jet on 7 August resulted from pilot error, according to Spanish daily El País, quoted in Estonian daily Postimees.
While the overall investigation into the incident continues, anonymous military sources claim that fault lies with the pilot in the misfiring of an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), from a Spanish Airforce Eurofighter Typhoon.
The paper claims that investigative tests show the pilot initiated the missile firing sequence during training. Normally, safety mechanisms should stop the actual launching in such cases, so the incident is reportedly rare.
However, weapons systems on the Typhoon multi-role, multi-national fighter are particularly complex and varied.
The missile was fired over Pangodi village, near Tartu, and is thought to have impacted in or near the Endla bog, about 100 km north. The Estonian/Russian border lies about 60 km east of Pangodi. The plane was flying at around a 6,000-metre altitude at the time.
Six hundred hectares of Endla bog was searched in the following days using equipment, with a further 200 hectares checked visually, yielding no trace of the missile or its debris. No reported casualties or material damage resulted from the incident, though brush fires broke out in the aftermath of impact.
Other investigations into the misfiring are still ongoing.

Sep 5, 2018

Singapore's first A330 tanker makes public debut

The Republic of Singapore Air Force's first Airbus A330 multi-role tanker/transport made its public debut on 1 September, taking part in the service's 50th anniversary parade.
Sporting special anniversary markings and the service registration 761, the adapted widebody had been flown to Singapore's Changi West air base in mid-August from Airbus Defence & Space's modification site in Getafe, near Madrid.
The nation will eventually field a six-strong fleet of the tanker/transports, as replacements for its ageing Boeing KC-135Rs.

Spain cancels bombs sale to Saudi Arabia amid Yemen concerns

Spain said Tuesday it has canceled the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs purchased by Saudi Arabia, amid fears that the weapons could be used against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The arms deal was originally signed in 2015 under Spain’s former conservative government, but the new center-left administration of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to return the €9.2 million (U.S. $10.7 million) already paid by the Saudis, Cadena SER radio reported Tuesday.
A Defence Ministry spokeswoman confirmed the report, but declined to elaborate. She was not authorized to be identified in media reports.
Sanchez's Socialist party had promised to revise the country's arms deals before the new prime minister ousted his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, in a parliamentary vote in June.
The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, visited all four countries in April this year. Two months later, his government signed the purchase of five naval corvettes that a Spanish state-owned military shipbuilder has pledged to deliver for €2 billion. The contract had been in the works for years.
As a longtime commercial ally of Saudi Arabia, Spain is the fourth-largest provider of military equipment and weapons to the Gulf state.