Despite political pressure, Switzerland selects the F-35A as its future fighter

Air Force will receive 36 jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin and which had by far the best score in the competition, said the country’s Federal Council

The Swiss Federal Council announced on Wednesday the choice of the F-35A as the fighter to be ordered in the Air2030 competition. The proposal still needs to be approved by Parliament, but it is just a formality.

The Swiss Air Force will have 36 fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin, which defeated Dassault (Rafale), Airbus (Eurofighter Typhoon) and Boeing (F/A-18E/F).

According to the Council, the F-35A proved to be the best technical proposal and also the lowest overall cost. In the evaluation, the fighter reached 336 points, 95 above the second place, which did not have the name informed.

The F-35A proved to be simpler to operate, requiring 20% ​​less flight and simulator hours. The government also noted savings of nearly $2 billion over 30 years of operation over the second-lowest bidder. The proposal value was also about $1 billion below the $6.5 billion financial cap.

Swiss Air Force F/A-18C

Most modern platform

The Federal Council considered the F-35A superior in three out of four evaluated criteria. As a 5th generation fighter, the Lockheed Martin aircraft has proven to have superior information that will be decisive for pilot decision making.

The jet’s stealth was also taken into account, an aspect that does not exist in competitors. The younger age of the project also weighed in Lockheed Marin’s favor because of the 30-year operating prospect.

Switzerland considered as a positive point the large number of fighters that are being produced and used by 15 nations, which, in the government’s view, will facilitate their maintenance and updating.

As a missed point are the 60% offset obligations that must be achieved within four years after the delivery of the last aircraft.

Rafale fighter (Dassault)

Political defeat

The selection of the F-35 comes amid political pressure for the Council to select a European aircraft. While Dassault was even considered as the most likely proposal to pass, Airbus made an offer to produce all Eurofighter Typhoon fighters.

However, it weighed the technical aspect and the independence of the neutral country, despite the regional implications of this choice.

The first F-35A’s are expected to be delivered starting in 2027 to replace the F/A-18C/D currently in service. The program is expected to be completed in 2030.

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