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F-35 being pitched to new European customers

Seen in US Marine Corps service, the F-35 is competing several European fighter tenders. (US Air Force)

An official has noted new active sales campaigns in Europe for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Speaking under the Chatham House Rule, the official said that, in addition to the already known competition in Finland and the previously disclosed requirement in Greece, the F-35 is currently engaged in hitherto undeclared campaigns in two other European countries.

“A number of other [European] countries have expressed interest officially, and that would be Spain, Greece, and the Czech Republic. [These] are in active campaign,” the official said on 3 November.

According to the official, the Spanish tender covers both the air force and the navy for 25 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As to replace the former's Boeing F/A-18 (EF-18 in national service) Hornet, and 25 short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35Bs to replace the latter's McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II/II+ (VA.2 in national service). A type selection is planned for 2025, with deliveries to begin from about 2027. The Czech requirement is for as many as 40 aircraft with the same timelines, with the F-35A variant being offered (the Czech government also requested information on the F-16, but Lockheed Martin chose to focus its bid on the F-35A).

As the Spanish Navy currently operates the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II/II+ (VA.2 in national service) from its amphibious assault ship Juan Carlos I , it has long been known that the service will need to procure the F-35B as the only other STOVL aircraft when it eventually retires the Harrier in the early 2030s. Speaking to Janes

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