Spain has formally expressed interest in joining French-German Next Generation Weapon System, or NGWS project.
The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles has requested the Spanish incorporation be formalized through the signing of a Letter of Intentions (LoI) or a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The cost of being a member of the program is estimated at around 25 million euros for the next two years, the MoD said in a statement Monday.
Robles sent out a letter to his French and German counterparts, Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen, the Government's firm interest in being part of the future European fighter.
The NGWS aims to be the fifth-generation fighter aircraft that will replace European fighters in service, such as the Eurofighter and the Rafale, starting in 2040.
The Spanish MoD also claims that Italy and Netherlands have joined the British Tempest program and it is convinced that both Franco-German and British program will eventually merge as both the programs need huge investment for their development.
The NGWS is conceived as a fighter aircraft with a pilot developed to operate in conjunction with a swarm of drones that will make weapons platforms and advanced sensors. In turn, the NGWS will be integrated into a panoply (the Future Air Combat System or FCAS) of which the mid-altitude and long-range drone (MALE, in which Spain participates with 23%) are part, satellites or cruise missiles.
In the next few years, before 2025, the Spanish Air Force must replace the 20 US F-18 fighters deployed in the base of Gando (Canary Islands); and by 2030, the remaining 65.