Swiss Air Force F-18 Hornets are gearing up to start a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in the new year. The QRA is the result of several incidents that left the Swiss Air Force embarrassed at best. However, a full 24/7 QRA is still four years away.
Starting January, two Hornets will maintain a 15-minute QRA on weekdays between eight o’clock in the morning and six in the evening. The need for an interception capability painfully came to light in February 2014, when a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 overflew Switzerland and landed at Geneva airport under the watchful eye of Italian and French fighter aircraft. The Swiss Air Force later said the incident took place ‘outside air force operating hours’.
The government in Bern was quick to announce a 27/4 capability again, coming back on a decision made in 2010 to axe QRA-duties because of budget cuts.
Payerne airbase will be home to the Swiss QRA. Starting 2017, the jets should be ready also in weekends and in 2019 intercepts are possible until ten in the evening. In 2020, the Swiss QRA should run 24/7 for 365 days a year. Yearly costs are an estimated 30 milion Swiss francs (28 million EUR). A hundred addtional jobs are needed in the Swiss Air Force.
The Swiss Air Force has 31 F-18 Hornets left following October’s non-fatal crash of F/A-18D two seater. That same month, a Swiss Hornet intercepting a Russian government airliner sparked a row between the two countries.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest