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Rocket man Ex-astronaut to advise on fighter jets

man next to astronaut doll

In 2017, Claude Nicollier celebrated the 25th anniversary of his first space flight.

(© Keystone/Laurent Gillieron)

Former astronaut and military pilot Claude Nicollier has been tapped to study the Swiss Air Force’s procurement plans.

Newly sworn-in Defence Minister Viola Amherd has asked Nicollier to provide a second opinion on the expert report titled “Air Defence of the Future”.

It was based on this report that the Federal Council had decided to buy new fighter jets and ground-to-air missiles for a total of CHF8 billion ($7.9 billion). But during the consultation process, the planning went poorly.

+ Why buying fighter jets is complex

Now Amherd has decided to launch an internal analysis before proceeding with the procurement plans. Only then will her department submit a concrete proposal to the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive branch.

This is planned for the first half of 2019, as stated in a press release on Mondayexternal link. Nicollier’s report should be available by the end of April.

So far the only Swiss in space, the 74-year-old is an astrophysicist and former military, airline and test pilot. After extensive training on the American space shuttle, he took part in four space missions between 1992 and 1999. Today, Nicollier is a member of the “Swiss Space Center” in Lausanne and a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.


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