Four Spanish Eurofighter Jets to Fly Around The World in 50 Days

Four Spanish Eurofighter Jets to Fly Around The World in 50 Days
Three Eurofighter Typhoons with the Spanish Air Force escort a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules during an aerial refueling mission, Aug. 13, in Spain. Bilateral exercises such as this one are how Spain and the U.S. foster one of the closest defense partnerships around the world. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy/Released)

For the first time in the history of Spanish military aviation, a formation of combat aircraft will embark on the challenge of flying over three oceans, traversing four continents, and completing a circumnavigation of the globe, covering a staggering 58,400 kilometers. This mission is to participate in diverse international tactical air exercises in the Arctic and several Indo-Pacific countries.

This is the challenge facing the “Plus Ultra” Tactical Air Group, which consists of four Eurofighter fighters, two A400M turboprop logistical transport aircraft carrying equipment, materials, and spare parts for aircraft maintenance, and an A330 multipurpose strategic transport aircraft.

The A330 is tasked with transporting 240 airmen, including refresher pilots, mechanics, armorers, software specialists, medical and health personnel, and Air Deployment Support Squadron members.

Lieutenant General Francisco González-Espresati, head of the Air Combat Command, highlights the mission’s goal: “to demonstrate and prove our high training and projection capacity, allowing us to quickly and effectively reach any part of the world in defense of our geostrategic interests.” The “Plus Ultra” Group, under the command of General Pedro Belmonte, will collaborate with counterparts from France and Germany, forming a tri-national fleet. This collective effort includes approximately 1,800 military personnel and 49 aircraft, ranging from fighters to tactical transports and helicopters.

The tri-national fleet boasts 28 fighter jets, including 12 Eurofighters (eight German and four Spanish from the 14th Wing), 12 German Tornados, and four French Rafales. Additionally, nine A400M tactical transports (four German, three French, and two Spanish from the 31st Wing in Zaragoza) and eight multi-role strategic transport and refueling aircraft (four German, three French, and one Spanish from Group 45 at Torrejón) are part of the fleet. The German Luftwaffe will also deploy four H145M LUH utility helicopters.

The mission’s extensive journey begins on 16 June, with all aircraft assembling at the German air base in Nörvenich. The next day, they will commence their route, stopping in Canada, Alaska, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, and India. Each leg of the journey includes participation in significant international exercises:

  • Arctic Defender (8-17 July): Held at Elmendorf-Richardson base in Alaska, this NATO exercise focuses on training operational procedures.
  • Pitch Black (22 July – 4 August): Taking place in Australia, this exercise involves nearly 100 aircraft from around 20 nations, including Spain, participating for the first time.
  • Tarang Shakti (7-13 August): Hosted by the Indian Air Force at Sulur air base, this exercise features Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30MKI Flanker fighters.

The Pacific Skies mission represents a milestone in Spanish military aviation, underscoring Spain’s commitment to global defense collaboration and technological advancement.

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