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F-35A wins the Swiss Air Force competition

On June 16, when US President Joe Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, he lobbied on behalf of US defense companies.

On June 30, the Swiss administration announced plans to purchase advanced Lightning II fighter jets from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which defeated three competitors-Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Dassault Rafale And Airbus’ Eurofighter-signed a contract worth more than 5.5 billion U.S. dollars (5 billion Swiss francs).

When the Federal Council submitted its bid in February, it recommended that Parliament purchase 36 F-35A fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. A government statement stated that this was reportedly “far below” the US$6.4 billion (6 billion francs) cap approved by Swiss voters in the referendum last fall. The cost of operating an F-35A aircraft for 30 years will be more than three times that. The F-35A will replace Switzerland’s aging fleet of 30 Boeing F/A-18 Hornets, which will be retired in 2030. The delivery of New Lightning II is scheduled to start in 2025.

“In terms of efficiency, the F-35A achieved the best results because it includes a new, extremely powerful, and comprehensive network system for protecting and monitoring the airspace,” the Federal Council said. Another consideration is the F-35A’s advanced flight simulator, which allows the F-35 to perform more virtual training tasks than its competitors.

The Swiss parliament must now approve the purchase of funds, and the debate is scheduled for early next year. Although it can debate costs and terms, it cannot overturn the decision.

Even before the decision was announced, several members of the Swiss cabinet stated that they prefer Eurofighters rather than rely on American air defense systems. Although critics have promised to initiate a referendum under the Swiss direct democracy system, they oppose any decision to purchase American fighter jets. This will not happen now.

David Oliver

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