Switzerland reopens path to new fighter acquisition

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Unread post25 Feb 2016, 04:56

The new Swiss Federal Counselor Guy Parmelin has reofficially relaunched the process to acquiring a new fighter to replace the completely obsolescent F-5E Tiger II and the F-18Cs that are fast reaching EOL. It'll begin with a study by joint experts of the Armed Forces, the defence acquisition agency Armasuisse and MoD secretariat to 2017 to define the needs for Switzerland (this is a country with a lobby against any form of Army that has polluted all left wing parties). The options are a simple air policing force, or one capable of air defence as well as close air support for ground forces. The next stage will be a dual grouping of parlamentarians and military to oversee the evaluation tests from 2017 onwards, with a decision in 2020 on acquisition and a Parliament vote on financing in 2022, for deliveries to begin in 2025. The usual suspects of Gripen, Typhoon II and Rafale (the original 3 competitors from back in the 2000s) are likely to be evaluated. The Federal Counselor wants to avoid a popular referendum on this acquisition at any cost, since this is what killed the Gripen E order in 2014 (why they let the general population vote on aircraft acquisition I'll never understand, they don't on tank orders...).

http://www.24heures.ch/suisse/parmelin-relance-procedure-nouvel-avion-combat/story/13418647 (in French).




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Unread post25 Feb 2016, 08:31

A few things need to be put under the correct light - the referendum was not because we didn't want a fighter at all, it was because it was supposed to be financed outside of the regular army budget. Next point, they chose the Gripen, which scored lowest in the evaluation. The evaluation document (or at least parts of) have been leaked and can be found on the internet. Then, they chose the only aircraft which wasn't fully developed, as the Gripen NG isn't introduced yet in any air force. And one of the last nails in the coffin was the issue with the hijacked airliner, which landed in Geneva, escorted by French fighters, because it happened outside of the air force operating (or better say intervention) hours. Many people think it's a waste of money to spend that amount of money for an Air Force wich can use their equipent only roughly 25% of the time. As the EOL of the Hornet is already in sight, I never understood why they wanted to replace the Tiger, and a few laters the Hornet. Which would leave us in the worst case (if the Gripen wouldn't be available anymore) a fleet of two types, but only 50 aircraft. Talking about economy of scale... Oh, we chose the only aircraft which isn't in use with our neighbours, that would have given us the opportunity to lower cost in logistic and training.

So, if they
a) finance it within the army budget
b) choose a good fighter which has some operational record
c) buy enough to have a single type fleet after that
d) have a 24/7 readiness (as demanded by the parlament in 2010, btw)
I'm sure the procurement will pass easily.

So, after the political rant, I agree that it will be either Rafale, EF, Gripen NG or maybe the F-35. My personal fav (which scored best in the evaluation, btw) would be the rafale.


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Unread post26 Feb 2016, 12:30

This schedule makes it very sensible to go for one type inventory and I'm sure this is what is planned. Swiss Hornets are aging and are due to replacement by about 2025-2030 or very much the same time Finnish Hornets are going to be replaced. There could be some sense to co-operate in the evaluation process.

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