The Secretary of State for Defence, Esperanza Casteleiro, presented to the Congressional Defence Committee the overall figure set out in the General State Budget for 2021, which she described as "reasonable".
The consolidated economic volume for next year of the ministerial portfolio headed by Margarita Robles totals 10,499 million euros, which represents an increase of 418.53 million, which is 4.15% higher than last year, but similar to that of 2018.
The appropriations allocated to staff costs represent 52.4% of the Department's total budget and amount to 4,928 million, a total of 175.53 million more than in 2020, a 3.69% increase. On the other hand, real investments account for 32.8% of the Ministry's total budget and amount to 3.09 billion, barely 160.6 million more although they represent a 5.5% increase.
The largest item is devoted to the so-called Special Modernisation Programmes, which total 27 initiatives and have a budget of 2,341.6 million, which means an increase of 177.1 million, a rise of 8.2% compared to 2020. The increase is due to the financial commitments that have been carried forward since 1997 and which will end in 2032 and "total 41,769 million euros".
Esperanza Casteleiro anticipated that in 2021 the project for the construction of the Maritime Intervention Underwater Ship, or BAM-IS, would begin, the total cost of which would be 183 million until 2024 and which would take over from the Maritime Rescue Ship "Neptune" A-20 launched no less than 45 years ago.
The new ship will have systems for carrying out deep-sea intervention and mine warfare missions and for "ensuring rescue capabilities, supporting submarine rescue and diving operations", stressed the political right-hand man of the minister, Margarita Robles.
With the absence of the members of the Mixed Group, Vasco and Bildu, the spokespersons of the political parties that support the Executive have questioned the investments in modernisation and purchase of weapons systems, as in the case of Juan José Nuet -of ERC-, while Miriam Nogueras, of Junts per Catalunya, has accused him of being "unreasonable".
The representative of UN-Podemos, Roberto Uriarte, considers the ministry's policy to be "continuous" and the increase "huge", and complained that the allocations had not been agreed with "his loyal government partner".
The spokesperson for Citizens, Miguel Ángel Gutiérrez Vivas, regretted the "lack of detail" and proposed a general amendment due to the "uncertainty hanging over the Spanish economy" and to an income estimate "that does not seem to be fulfilled".
The Vox MEP, Agustín Rosety, considers it "weak" and that it "deteriorates" the Armed Forces, while the spokesperson for the Popular Group, Fernando Gutiérrez Díaz de Otazu, missed, for example, some economic items "for specific actions against the COVID-19 pandemic".
The head of the Defence Chief of Staff (JEMAD), Air Force General Miguel Ángel Villarroya, spoke at the same session of the Defence Committee on 5 November, as did the Under-Secretary of Defence, Amparo Valcarce, who, together with scarcely a dozen MPs from the fifty or so members of the Committee, dispatched the presentation and analysis of the defence budgets for 2021 in less than five hours.
As the person responsible for the effectiveness of the Joint Force and for determining the capabilities for the armies and navy to perform their missions, General Villarroya has anticipated that the Air Force will take part in 2021 and in the NATO framework in the "air police mission in Romania". This is an intervention that he has described as "complementary to our usual deployment in the Baltic", which has been carried out since 2006 with 132 military personnel and six F-18 fighters deployed at the Siauliai airbase in Lithuania.
The first detachment of the new mission in Romania will be sent at the beginning of February to the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base, which is located near the city of Constanta and on the Black Sea coast, 390 km from the large Russian naval base of Sebastopol on the Crimean peninsula. The mission will be carried out by 132 troops and six EF-2000 Eurofighter fighter planes belonging to the 11th Wing stationed in Morón de la Frontera (Seville).
The Defence Chief of Staff also highlighted some of the aspects that have the most direct impact on the operational efficiency of the Spanish armed forces. Among them is the "constant increase" that the payments of the Special Modernisation Programmes will undergo in the coming years. With an economic volume of 2,164 million euros, similar to that of 2018, with these obligations "there is a risk of closing the way to new transformation efforts", General Villarroya said.
He stated that projects such as the EF-2000 Eurofighter combat aircraft, the A400M four-engine transport aircraft, the 8x8 Dragon VCR Wheeled Combat Vehicle or the F-100 and F-110 Frigates would not have been possible "without a decisive commitment to innovation", which must now be "the seed of the already initiated FCAS" and, in the future, the new training aircraft, which must serve to "instruct the pilots of the sixth generation fighters".
In the area of sustaining the weapons systems already existing in the armies and navy, he specified that in 2020 only "51% of what is estimated to be necessary to maintain the operability of the SAFs" could be attended to, which is "a long way from the 70% that was established as a minimum emergency". With the amounts allocated to this chapter, only those capabilities could be covered which "to a greater extent affected national defence, missions abroad and guaranteeing the security of members of the armed forces".
The presentation of the accounts by the Under-Secretary, Amparo Valcarce, enabled her to state that her "strategic objective" is the personnel of Troops and Seamen, to whom her department is going to devote a total of 175 million "as a priority and majority" for improving their pay. The Under-Secretary closed the session of the Defence Committee devoted to discussing the draft Defence budget by stating that the Armed Forces are "awaiting this budget, which meets their needs, both in terms of personnel and operations".