If it is up to the Swiss government, the 54 remaining Swiss F-5 Tiger aircraft are disposed off in two years time. This was announced earlier this week by the Bundesrat, the seven-member council which constitutes the government of Switzerland. The outcome of the Gripen referendum on 18 May will not affect this proposal, according to minister of defence and Bundesrat member Ueli Maurer.
The Swiss will invest 771 million Swiss francs (878 million USD) into their army, but to make financial room certain systems in the inventory will have to be axed. This also includes the 54 remaining F-5E/F Tigers.
Switzerland bought a total of 98 F-5E single seat and 12 F-5F dual seat fighter aircraft in two batches in 1976 and 1981. Over the last decade or so, a significant number of F-5s were already sold to the United States, who uses them as aggressor aircraft for the US Navy and US Marines. A smaller number of aircraft was leased to Austria for several years.
The most famed Swiss user of the F-5 is the display team Patrouille Suisse. The exact future of the team is not yet known, but the axing of the F-5 may very well also mean the end of Patrouille Suisse.
In a referendum on 18 May, the Swiss voters get their final say over the planned purchase of 22 Saab Gripen E fighter aircraft. These aircraft will replace the F-5s as the second Swiss Air Force fighter, next to the 32 Swiss F/A-18C/D Hornets now in use. The recent mischief about the Swiss Air Force not being able to supply 24/7 fighter coverage (see here and here), may secure a ‘yes’ for the Gripens as the outcome of the referendum.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest
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