SPAIN PLANS TO buy 24 McDonnell Douglas F-18As from the US Navy, to fill a gap in its fighter force until the Eurofighter EF2000 enters service. The country has rejected a US Air Force offer of secondhand Lockheed F-16s.

The Spanish air force has sent a letter of request to the USA to purchase 24 early-model F-18A single-seaters, with an option for six more.

The aircraft will be drawn from the US Navy's operational fleet and will receive new General Electric F404 engines and other modifications.

A letter of agreement covering the deal is being negotiated with the US Department of Defense. The aircraft will be drawn from the production batches which preceded Lot 10 and will be of a similar standard to the 72 F-18A/Bs which were delivered to Spain between 1986 and 1990.

The USAF had hoped that Spain would launch its programme to resell surplus F-16s to raise funds for new aircraft.

The US Navy does not have any surplus F-18s, but agreed to make aircraft available because of Spain's status as a NATO ally and F-18 operator.

Source: Flight International