The Spanish Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced it will increase defence spending to an adequate level that complements the nation’s growing procurement of systems last year.

On 25 January 2024, the Minister of Defence Margarita Robles appeared before the Defence Commission of the Congress of Deputies to underscore three cardinal principles: developing personnel policy, strengthening Spain’s role in international security and modernising the Armed Forces.

The funds will largely support military modernisation. Robles claimed that “All these programmes and projects require… adequate financing.” The Minister added that the budget forecast “is to reach 1.30% of [Spain’s] GDP [gross domestic product] in the 2024”, after going from 0.93% in 2018 to 1.24% in 2023.

Moreover, the Iberian nation is committed to reaching 2% of its GDP in 2029 – a long aspired goal some Nato members have reached while others, such as Poland, have even exceeded.

“This investment in defence – I will not tire of repeating it – results not only in the guarantee of our security, protection, freedom and well-being. “But it acts as a driving force for the national economy, promoting the industrial sector that generates highly qualified employment,” said Robles.

Spanish modernisation programme

In her speech, Robles stressed that “the technological component plays an increasingly important role in the development of operations” and highlighted that during the last five years “we have proceeded to unblock and promote programmes that are so necessary for the Armed Forces and so relevant to the national industry.”

This included F-110 frigates, the S-80 submarine (the first of which, the ‘Isaac Peral’ S-81, was recently delivered to the Navy), the 8×8 wheeled combat vehicle (VCR), or the second phase of the Pizarro armoured programme.

Likewise, the Minister of Defence explained, the programmes for the acquisition of the Chain Support Vehicle (VAC), the High Mobility Rocket Launcher System (SILAM), and the construction of two coastal hydrographic vessels (BAM-IS) have been addressed, while PC Pilatus-21 trainer aircraft or the Navy’s NH-90, among others.

During the International Armoured Vehicles conference, hosted by Defence iQ at Twickenham Stadium, London, a spokesperson noted that the Spanish Army outlined programmes launched in 2023, including the multi-domain missile, Mistral III; NASAMS extended range; tracked support vheicle (VAC);the SILAM artillery system, among other systems.

In addition, the spokesperson referred to potential new programmes this year, including the acquisition of the NBQ Piton support vehicle and C-RPAS Cervus system.

In addition, the Army will also modernise its existing Leopard 2E main battle tanks in its heavy brigade. This MBT is due to reach initial operating capability in 2029.

Areas of improvement are extensive: command, control and communications; fire power; mobility; protection and maintenance.

Leopardo 2E displayed by the Spanish Army in 2008. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.