Spanish Armed Forces Running on Empty

What really hurts during defence cuts is not the loss of equipment or men, but the drastic cut to the fuel allowance – Spain’s has been slashed.

The Defence Cuts for 2014 have chopped the armed forces fuel budget from 231m litres to just 77m, meaning that planes, tanks and ships will be parked for most of the year.

The largest fuel consumer of the three armed forces is the Spanish Royal Air Force, which accounted for 180m litres of the original 231m, so logically they are going to be the most affected, with a cut from that 180m to just 37m litres for 2014.

Like cars, some people think that the most expensive part of owning one is its purchase, but the truth is that it’s the running costs – such is the case of Spain’s F-18’s. One of these fighter planes burns 2,000 litres an hour at cruising speed, reaching a consumption of 6,800 litres per hour on after burn – sure, nobody attempts to use after burn for an hour without disintegrating…

But an aircraft’s cost is not measured in fuel consumption but in flying hours because for every hour in the air, you can calculate between ten and 20 hours maintenance. A very basic jet fighter will cost around 8,000 euro per hour with fuel consumption included – and F-22 would have cost more like 30,000 euros per hour flying time.

Result: military pilots will spend a lot of time sitting on the ground. Before the cuts they got five hours a month but with these cuts, they will be lucky to be able to sniff tarmac, let alone lift off from it.

The Spanish Royal Navy will only see a cut of 8m litres, but when that is 8m slashed from 28m, it’s a different story – that’s not far below one third of their entire fuel allowance. A Tramontana submarine uses around 200 litres an hour.

As for the Spanish Royal Army, their Leopard II MBT’s (Main Battle Tank) swig back a thousand litres every 350 kilometres – they are camel-efficient compared with the American Abrams, admitedly, but even so that’s almost 3-L per KM.

A modern army is useless without fuel; a tank with an empty tank has the mobility of a concrete gun emplacement and a state-of-the-art fighter jet is only good for a giving a spot of shade on a runway.

(News: Spain)

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