Visitors to Dassault Aviation at Booth Z90 may be forgiven a double take. Yes, that is a model of a Rafael fighter; but, sadly, its appearance at EBACE does not mean the French airframer is courting the executive who wishes to take the fight to their competitors with unprecedented vigor. Rather, it affirms that the jet is back in play for one of the most contentious military procurements of modern times.

In May 2014, Swiss voters rejected their defense ministry's 2008 decision to replace the Swiss Air Force's Northrop F-5 Tiger fighters with Saab Gripen jets. Last year, the Swiss defense minister confirmed that the process will be restarted, but will also include replacement of the country's Boeing F/A-18s, due out of service in 2025. Although an official announcement of the re-start has yet to be made, Dassault opened an office in Bern in February.

The business package bidders assemble will be as vital as aircraft performance. In the original competition, each bidder was expected to include work for Swiss industry of at least $2.2bn. Dassault told the Aargauer Zeitung newspaper in February that Swiss industry could be involved in "all parts of the program: production, assembly, maintenance, logistics, further development."