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Swiss air force Details of planned fighter jet purchase agreed

Plane spotters taking pictures of a Rafale fighter jet

Over the past few weeks, plane spotters in Switzerland could watch the French-built Rafale combat aircraft as well as three other types of fighter jets in the Swiss skies. 

(© Keystone/Peter Klaunzer)

The government has confirmed plans to acquire new fighter jets for the Swiss air force for no more than CHF6 billion ($6.1 billion) over the next few years.

The bill, approved on Wednesday, foresees a lower than originally agreed compensation deal for Swiss industry. The acquisition of a new air defence system will be treated simultaneously but in a separate proposal according to an official statementexternal link.

In line with a request by the defence minister, the government decided that, under the terms of the compensation deal, the Swiss technology sector can only hope to secure business worth 60% (as opposed to the 100% originally agreed) of the total price for the jets from the producer country.

Parliament is expected to discuss the purchase by next summer. A decision can be challenged to a nationwide vote likely before 2021.

The air force is currently evaluating four offers from France companies Airbus and Dassault, as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the United States. The Swedish company Saab was forced to withdraw from the competition earlier this month.

The Swiss government argues the country’s ageing fleet of F-5 Tigers and F/A-18s has to be replaced by 2030 at the latest to protect the country’s airspace and its security.

In 2014, voters rejected a planexternal link to buy 22 Swedish Gripen jets from Saab for CHF3.1 billion, overturning a decision by the Swiss parliament.

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