May 29, 2014
Spain to extend AV-8B Harrier service life
The allocation was announced by the cabinet on 23 May, five months after the Chief of Navy Staff, warned that the Armada's fixed-wing capability could be coming to an end.
A government statement said the investment was necessary because funds were not available to buy replacement aircraft to operate from the service's sole flat top, the Juan Carlos I .
The opportunity to extend the programme of our EAV-8B Plus Harrier has opened up because the United States is also going to extend the useful life of its Harrier aircraft, in the face of development delays with the new vertical take-off F-35 JSF.
Spain has a joint programme with the United States for the Harrier, which was set up in 1990 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for development and support that also included Italy.
A 10-year agreement covering post-production and life-cycle support, in which those three countries were joined by the United Kingdom, was signed in 2004 and is due to run out on 9 December.
Speaking at a press briefing in January, spanish chief of Navy Staff said the only possible replacement for the Harrier was the F-35.
But as Spain had not been involved in the project from the start, trying to join at a late stage would make the aircraft "very expensive".
He warned then that the navy's Harriers would need to be retired between 2020 and 2025 and that "we have to start thinking, to see if we can come up with a replacement".
The AV-8B was acquired originally for the Armada's first modern aircraft carrier, Principe de Asturias , which was decommissioned in December 2013, following the commissioning of the much larger Juan Carlos I .