Spanish Air Force Northrop F-5M (AE.9) trainer aircraft

Spain seeks replacement for its old F-5M trainer aircraft

Air Force evaluates the Boeing T-7, the KAI T-50, the Leonardo M-346 and even the new Hürjet, from Turkey while the Airbus advanced trainer project does not get off the ground

In service for 54 years, the Spanish Air Force’s F-5M Freedom Fighters are still expected to remain active until at least 2028, but the country is already searching for a replacement trainer aircraft.

According to Lt. Col. Hugo Garcia Galán, deputy operational chairman for the Next Generation Weapon System of the Air Force, Spain is evaluating four new systems, according to statements to Aviation Week.

The competitors are the Boeing T-7A Red Hawk, the T-50, from Korea Aerospace Industries, the Leonardo M-346 and the new Turkish project Hürjet, from Turkish Aerospace.

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Boeing T-7A Red Hawk at Edwards Air Force Base (USAF)

Spain has operated F-5s for many years and has had a fairly large fleet of the Northrop aircraft, but currently operates around 19 two-seater jets, called AE.9, in Wing 23 based at Talavera la Real Air Base.


The Spanish Air Force is experiencing a dilemma as it needs to modernize its instruction structure while the country is one of the partners in the FCAS (Future Combat Air System) program, led by France and Germany.

The new fighter that will replace the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon is only expected to enter service in the 2040s and will require a new training platform.

It could become the Airbus Future Jet Trainer (AFJT), an advanced training jet whose project was revealed by the European group (of which Spain is a partner) in 2020.

Airbus AFJT

The AFJT was to be developed and produced from Spain, whose aerospace industry has past experience with aircraft such as the CASA C.101.

The new coach, however, still depends on financial resources to get off the ground.


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