Switzerland restarts quest for new fighter jet

Swizterland is restarting its quest for a new fighter jet for its air force after a botched attempt two years ago to purchase 22 Saab Gripens. New aircraft are still needed to replace ageing F-5 Tigers, defense minister Guy Parmelin told Swiss government on Wednesday 24 February.

This year the Swiss start setting up requirements for the new fighter plus a set of plans for the selection process and eventual purchase. The selection is set to last until 2020, with a formal decision and order no later than 2022. Deliveries should start by 2025, according to Parmelin.

The F-18 Hornet is Switzerland’s most capable fighter aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F-18 Hornet is Switzerland’s most capable fighter aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

‘No’ to Gripen E

Prior to 2011, the Saab Gripen E, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were evaluated in Switzerland. Although not showing itself as the best option in all aspects plus allegations of bribery, the Gripen came out on top. The Swiss government decided to buy 22 Gripens, but opponents managed to get enough support for a referendum in which voters eventually said ‘no’ to Gripens.

The F-5 Tiger needs replacement, especially since cracks grounded parts of the fleet recently. As of now, 30 out of 54 Tigers are operational. The type was set for retirement this year but may very well fly on for some time.

In 2025, the 31 current F-18 Hornets reach the end of their service life. Extending their service for five years will cost tax payers half a billion Swiss francs (410 million EUR).

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The new jet should replace the ageing F-5 Tiger. (Image © Elmer van Hest)