The US State Department has given the green light for the potential sale of two types of fighter jets and several Patriot missile systems to Switzerland. On September 27, Swiss voters narrowly approved a CHF6 billion funding packet that allows the army to go ahead with the purchase of new fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 Tigers and F/A-18 Hornet jets by 2030. The government will decide next year between the Eurofighter from Airbus, the Rafale from France’s Dassault, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, or the Lockheed Martin F35-A.
SOURCE: Reuters / swissinfo / sb
On Wednesday, in a move that would pave the way for the export of either of the US jets, the US State Department approved the potential sale of 40 F-35A’s spare parts, munitions and training for a total estimated cost of $6.58 billion. The State Department also approved the potential sale of 40 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jets, spares munitions and training as well as related equipment for an estimated cost of $7.45 billion.
The notification process alerts the US Congress that a sale to a foreign country has been approved, but it does not indicate that a contract has been signed or negotiations have concluded. In addition, the State Department approved the potential sale of five Patriot missile systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.2 billion.
In the run-up to Sunday’s vote, Swiss campaigners warned that the government was downplaying the real costs for the new aircraft. When maintenance and other costs are accounted for, the bill will amount to CHF24 billion rather than CHF6, opponents argued.
However, supporters of the project said neutral Switzerland needed to modernize its air force fleet to keep up a credible self-defence system and to remain independent from other countries.
The Group for a Switzerland without an Army, which launched Sunday’s referendum together with the Social Democratic Party and the Greens, has already declared itself ready to launch another initiative against a specific type of fighter aircraft.