Spain opts out. F-35 Zombie Shuffle continues.
|Not happening for Spain anytime soon.|
The F-35B is seen as the de facto choice for organizations operating Harriers. It is the only fighter with STOVL abilities, enabling it to operate from smaller aircraft carriers designed primarily for helicopter operations. This includes the Royal Navy, USMC, Indian Navy, Royal Thai Navy, Italian Navy, and Spanish Navy.
With a monopoly on making STOVL fighters, you'd think Lockheed-Martin's F-35B sales would be shoe-in. Unlike the "A" and "C" models, there are no alternatives to the F-35B, stealthy or no. Yet, F-35B sales are looking incredibly shaky lately.
|Spanish AV-8B Harrier II.|
Combine this, however, with Italy's proposed deep cuts to its purchase (45 instead of 90), and things start to look worse. Add the fact that the U.K is only committing to 48 (instead of 138), and it starts to look like the F-35B just isn't that much in demand.
Why is the F-35B looking like a hard sell? You'd think that a supersonic stealth fighter that can take off and land like a helicopter would be in high demand.
Maybe it's because the F-35B currently costs a quarter of a billion dollars each.
Perhaps it is because it needs specially prepared landing areas.
There's always the possibility that operating STOVL fighters from lightly defended forward operating bases makes them too tempting a target.
Whatever the reasons, Lockheed-Martin's case for "up to 5000 sales" just got a little weaker.