We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Spain: Defense Production
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Defense Production


Spanish industry manufactured a significant share of the material requirements of the armed forces, notably light arms, vehicles, ships, and light transport aircraft. As a member of NATO, Spain had joined in the planning of several coproduction projects with other West European countries. Nearly 150 firms were engaged principally in defense production, and about 4,000 Spanish firms were linked in some way with the industry. Four large munitions manufacturers were directly controlled by the Ministry of Defense. A number of other major firms were part of the state holding company, the National Industrial Institute (Instituto Nacional de Industria -- INI). A large group of purely private companies formed a third category. The ultimate intention of the Ministry of Defense was to transfer the four arms factories to the INI.

According to a 1986 survey of firms doing business with the Ministry of Defense, the manufacture of electronics accounted for about 20 percent of Spanish defense production; military vehicles for about 14 percent, supply of arms for approximately 13.0 percent, naval construction for about 8.0 percent, and aircraft construction for approximately 6.0 percent. Production of components and ancillary equipment made up the remaining approximately 39 percent.

Among the leading producers of army equipment was Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A. (ENASA), generally known by the trade name of Pegaso, which manufactured a range of trucks and armored vehicles. Its basic BLR four-wheeled armored car was used primarily by the Spanish army; the six-wheeled BMR also was exported to Saudi Arabia and to Egypt. Most of the army's ordnance was produced by Empresa Nacional de Santa Barbara de Industrias Militares (Santa Barbara), including the CETME 5.56mm rifle, in general use by the Spanish army, and the AMX-30E tank, based on French technology. Santa Barbara also manufactured the truck-mounted 140mm Teruel multiple rocket launcher. Larger naval vessels, including Spain's new aircraft carrier, French-designed submarines of the Daphne and the Agosta classes, and FFG-7 frigates of United States design, were constructed by Empresa Nacional Bazan de Construcciones Navales Militares (Bazan) at San Fernando near Cadiz.

The predominant aircraft manufacturer, Construcciones Aeronauticas S.A. (CASA), was best known for the C-212, a short takeoff and landing utility plane with a three-ton payload. The company also produced the C-101, a trainer and light fighter, with assistance from West German and American aircraft companies that owned minority interests in CASA. The CN-235 turboprop, a forty-seat airliner with a military version, was being built in cooperation with an Indonesian firm. CASA also was reported in 1987 to be at the design stage of a plane -- the Avion Experimental (AX) -- that might be selected to replace the F-5 tactical fighters obtained from the United States. This would be an advanced version, of the C-101 with an engine of much greater horsepower. CASA also assembled French-supplied kits for Aerospatiale Super Puma helicopters. It was the principal Spanish firm involved with British, West German, and Italian firms in the Eurofighter consortium planning an entirely new fighter aircraft for the latter half of the 1990s that was expected to replace the Mirages in the existing Spanish inventory.

Among other more advanced systems either being produced or in the planning phase were the French-designed Roland and the Italian Aspide air defense missile systems and the European attack helicopter AB-129. The latter was being developed in collaboration with Britain, Italy, and the Netherlands, with production foreseen for the 1990s.

The relatively small scale of Spain's own military orders spurred the Spanish armaments industry to develop its export potential and to increase its share of the international arms market. By 1987 it had risen to eighth rank as a world exporter, with a number of clients in the Middle East and in Latin America. In an analysis of 1985 results by an industry group, the Spanish Arms Manufacturers Association, export sales by member firms (125 billion pesetas) exceeded sales to the Ministry of Defense (90 billion pesetas).

As of 1988, Spain enforced sales embargoes against countries accused of human rights violations (e.g., South Africa, Chile, and Paraguay), Warsaw Pact and other communist countries, and active belligerents (e.g., Iran and Iraq). The Spanish press has, however, reported widespread violations of these controls, especially in the form of munitions shipments to Iran and to Iraq. Spain also had joined with other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries and Japan in controlling the export of militarily sensitive goods to communist destinations through the Paris-based Co-ordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM).

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Spain was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Spain Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 171 of 183


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(€) Euro (EUR)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map