Army spending plans cut down to size

The army wants to buy 20 Eurocopters to replace the Alouettes III. Eurocopter

The government has submitted a revised military procurement programme for 2004, a month after the previous version was thrown out by parliament.

This content was published on April 13, 2005 - 16:00

The original package for last year had to go back to the drawing board after parliament rejected the military’s annual shopping list for the first time in its history.

Missing from the latest package are the two air transporters whose acquisition was opposed by the House of Representatives.

Last month parliament failed to agree on the purchase of the Casa C-295M planes, costing SFr109 million ($90.8 million).

The decision came after the Senate had already cut a dozen armoured vehicles worth SFr129 million from the original package.

The latest version, announced on Wednesday, contains all the elements that were not contested by either the Senate or the House of Representatives.

At a total cost of SFr409 million, it includes an upgrade of the Florako air surveillance system (SFr268 million) and the purchase of two combat simulators (SFr95 million).

Also on the list, which still has to be approved by parliament, are 105,000 new helmets (SFr35 million) and 49 mobile fuel stations (SFr11 million).

2005 wish list

The defence ministry said on Wednesday that the planned procurement programme for 2005 was likely to be much more substantial, costing more than SFr1 billion.

It provisionally includes plans to buy 20 helicopters to replace the army’s ageing Alouettes III, which have been in service for 45 years.

Defence Minister Samuel Schmid also has his eyes on an Israeli-made telecommunications system that would cost SFr150 million.

The purchase would be the first by Switzerland from Israeli companies since 2002, when military cooperation was substantially reduced after Israeli forces reoccupied towns in the Palestinian territories.

Last month it was announced that restrictions on arms deals between the two countries had been lifted following talks in Jerusalem between Schmid and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The military’s proposed 2004 procurement programme has been trimmed from SFr647 million down to SFr409 million.

It contains:
Air surveillance system: SFr268 million.
Mobile fuel stations: SFr11 million
Helmets: SFr35 million.
Combat simulators: SFr95 million

Out have gone:
Armoured vehicles: SFr129 million.
Transport planes: SFr109 million.

End of insertion
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