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Order for new fighter jets reportedly dropped

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer says Switzerland will not buy new fighter jets for financial reasons, Swiss media are reporting.

Switzerland had originally planned to spend SFr2.2 billion ($2.17 billion) to buy 33 new jets to replace the ageing fleet of 54 Tiger fighter aircraft. The order was then reduced to 22 jets.

But sources told Swiss radio and television on Wednesday night that the money would only suffice for the purchase of about a dozen jets. Mauer then decided to stop the order altogether, they said.

A government spokesman would only confirm that ministers had discussed the jet fighter question during a recent meeting but he would not elaborate on whether the order had actually been dropped.

The pacifist group, Switzerland without an Army, praised the news. The organisation had collected enough signatures to force the issue to a nationwide vote in 2011. A previous attempt by pacifists to block the purchase of fighter jets was rejected by voters in 1993.

Others said the decision to stop the order, if true, was too late.

"A stop in training or a two- to three-year delay would put the Air Force in danger and with that put the army at risk," said Thomas Hurter, a representative from Maurer's own Swiss People's Party. and agencies