The Swiss Air Force has confirmed that cracks have been found in five of its F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets. The aircraft have been taken out of action, the defence ministry said on Monday.
A broken hinge was first discovered on a landing flap of an F/A-18C during an intermediate inspection at the end of Januaryexternal link. It was then decided to submit all remaining F/A-18 jetsexternal link to tests, to ensure their air worthiness and safety.
Cracks were found on the landing flap of three further aircraft, a statement last Friday saidexternal link. A further plane was found to have the same problem, and the five are now grounded indefinitely.
It is not possible to say whether the parts will be replaced, the estimated cost or when the jets might fly again, the defence ministry said. The cracks were not visible to the naked eye, but were discovered using a special device, it added.
In all, 30 aircraft underwent tests at military airfields.
The F/A-18-Hornet fighter jets have been used in Switzerland since 1997. The government would like to spend CHF8 billion ($8.6 billion) on new fighter jets and missile defences for the Swiss army. The 30 F/A-18s can be used, for example, until 2030.
In 2014 voters rejected spending CHF3.1 billion on 22 Gripen fighters. It is not clear whether voters will have the final say on this latest CHF8 billion-project, the biggest arms procurement programme in modern Swiss history.