Swiss Government Eyes Order Of US Fighter Jets, Air Defence Units.

Swiss Government Eyes Order Of US Fighter Jets, Air Defence Units

Switzerland's government backed the purchase of 36 F-35A fighter jets.

Geneva, Switzerland:

Switzerland's government on Wednesday backed the purchase of 36 F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin to replace its fleet and five Patriot air defence units from fellow US manufacturer Raytheon.

Switzerland's current air defence equipment will reach the end of its service life in 2030 and has been undergoing a long and hotly-contested search for replacements.

"The Federal Council is confident that these two systems are the most suitable for protecting the Swiss population from air threats in the future," the government said in a statement.

The decision will now be put to the Swiss parliament -- and also risks being challenged at the ballot box, with left-wingers and an anti-militarist group looking to garner enough signatures to trigger a public vote.

The F-35A was chosen ahead of the Airbus Eurofighter; the F/A-18 Super Hornet by Boeing; and French firm Dassault's Rafale.

For the ground-based air defence (GBAD) system, Patriot was selected ahead of SAMP/T by France's Eurosam.

"An evaluation has revealed that these two systems offer the highest overall benefit at the lowest overall cost," the government statement said.

Switzerland is famously neutral. However, its long-standing position is one of armed neutrality and the landlocked European country has mandatory conscription for men.

"A fleet of 36 aircraft would be large enough to cover Switzerland's airspace protection needs over the longer term in a prolonged situation of heightened tensions," the government said.

"The air force must be able to ensure that Swiss airspace cannot be used by foreign parties in a military conflict."

Long path to decision

Switzerland began to seek replacements for its ageing fleet of fighter jets more than a decade ago, but the issue has become caught up in a political battle in the wealthy Alpine nation.

The Swiss government has long argued for the need to quickly replace its 30 or so F/A-18 Hornets, which will reach the end of their lifespan in 2030, and the F-5 Tigers, which have been in service for four decades and are not equipped for night flights.

In 2014, the country looked set to purchase 22 Gripen E fighter jets from Swedish group Saab, only to see the public vote against releasing the funds needed to go forward with the multi-billion-dollar deal.

Bern launched a new selection process four years later, and a referendum last year to release six billion Swiss francs ($6.5 billion) for the purchase of the fighters of the government's choice squeezed through with 50.1 percent of voters in favour.

During the referendum campaign, the government warned that without a swift replacement for its fleet, "Switzerland will no longer be in a position to protect and even less defend its airspace by 2030".

Currently, the fleet does not have the capacity to support ground troops for reconnaissance missions or to intervene against ground targets.

Meanwhile Switzerland's current GBAD system is also old and lacks the capacity to meet the widening spectrum of modern threats.

The military currently relies on a range of Rapier and Stinger short-range missiles that have been in service since 1963.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV News

NDTV.com provides latest news from India and the world. Get today’s news headlines from Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, videos, photos, live news coverage and exclusive breaking news from India.

https://www.ndtv.com/

Related news

US Military Aids Israel-Managed Tanker Attacked Off Oman.

The US Navy is assisting an Israeli-managed petroleum products tanker attacked off Oman with two crew members killed, the U.S. military said on Saturday, adding the ship was most likely hit by a drone...

NDTV News

Devin Nunes: Pelosi has managed to 'burn down' Congress.

Devin Nunes: Pelosi has managed to 'burn down' Congress.

California Republican joins 'Fox News Primetime' to discuss progress on bipartisan infrastructure bill and the future of Republicans Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney in the House. #FoxNews #FoxNewsPrimetime Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more...

Biden says federal employees must get vaccinated or be subject to regular testing.

Biden says federal employees must get vaccinated or be subject to regular testing.

Fox News' Kevin Corke reports that the administration is also looking at how the can add the COVID-19 vaccine to list of requirements for the military. #FoxNews #Breaking Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Liv...

Ingraham plays montage of congressmen crying during hearing.

Ingraham plays montage of congressmen crying during hearing.

'The Matt Walsh Show' host joins 'The Ingraham Angle' to react to congressmen crying during Jan. 6 hearing. #FoxNews #Ingraham Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-e...

Simone Biles helps open the door to a new culture in sports.

Simone Biles helps open the door to a new culture in sports.

Biles is the world champion of one of the most physically and mentally demanding sports in the world. Her withdrawal at the Olympics shows that well-being is more important than competing at any cost.

China and Taliban officials meet as US exits Afghanistan.

China and Taliban officials meet as US exits Afghanistan.

Fox News' Jennifer Griffin reports China is looking to 'fill the vacuum' left by America on 'Special Report.' #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompass...

Domenech: Only way for Dems to win is to lean into a 'permanent pandemic'.

Domenech: Only way for Dems to win is to lean into a 'permanent pandemic'.

'Special Report' All-Star panel reacts to the Biden administration's COVID messaging. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service deliver...