Switzerland DecidesTony Osborne
On Sept. 27, Switzerland went to to the polls for the second time in six years in a referendum to decide the future of the country’s fighter fleet. In 2014, the Swiss populace voted down plans for Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen to replace the Northrop Grumman F-5 Tiger.
This time, the question was more binary, asking simply whether the country should procure new fighters—a single fleet that would replace both fleets of 30 C/D-model F/A-18 Hornets and 26 Northrop F-5 Tigers.
The government-backed “Security Yes” campaign won by the finest of margins, securing 50.1% of the vote. Their winning message said that voting against the proposals could leave the country’s airspace unprotected beginning in 2030, when both the Hornets and Tigers will reach the end of their useful lives.
The “No to New Fighter Jets” campaign did not rule out the need for an air defense capability but argued that a smaller and lighter aircraft would have achieved the desired capability at a lower cost and in a more environmentally and noise-friendly way.
There is now a CHF6 billion budget for a new fighter and a type selection is expected in 2021.
This gallery presents the fighters proposed for the Swiss requirement and the aircraft they will go on to replace.