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Switzerland to vote on new fighter jets

Jet aerobatic team Patrouille Suisse in formation flight. Image via Swiss Army - ZEM.

Switzerland’s Federal Council has announced the nation will hold another national referendum to vote on whether to buy new fighter jets – but not on the type.

The government is looking to spend CHF8 billion ($10.7 billion) on the new fighter jets and missiles for its army, with its current fleet of planes and anti-aircraft missiles coming to the end of their service life.

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Switzerland's Defence Minister Guy Parmelin said its 30 F/A-18s can be used until 2030, its F-5 Tiger jets are not suitable for "real operations", with only 26 still flying regularly, and its anti-aircraft missiles only operational until 2025.

It is expected the defence ministry will talk with Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin and Saab about possible replacement aircraft and missiles.

The vote is expected to be held no later than 2020.

The Swiss regularly vote on matters of defence procurement. In 1993, the country voted to buy F/A-18s, but in 2014, 53.4 per cent of votes rejected the proposal to buy 22 JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden's Saab. Unlike the 2014 referendum, the type-selection will take place after the vote.

The models Switzerland is expected to look at are the Eurofighter Typhoon, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin's F-35, Saab's JAS 39 Gripen, and the Dassault Rafale.

Switzerland to vote on new fighter jets
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