Funds earmarked for air defence and protection vests

Defence Minister Parmelin (right) has warned of the changing security threats and stressed the importance of investing in the militia army Keystone

The Swiss government plans to spend about CHF2 billion ($2.1 billion) this year on updating air defence capabilities, modernising its fleet of Cougar transport helicopters, and upgrading army training centres.

Defence Minister Guy Parmelin said the acquisition of personnel supplies, including ballistic vests for the 100,000 members of the militia army, was a priority as part of a reform of the Swiss armed forces.

+ Read up on the army reform plans approved by parliament 

“The investment is necessary to adapt the armed forces to changing security threats, including terrorist attacks and cyber-attacks,” he told a news conference on Wednesday. “The army is essential to protect our population.”

The government also called on parliament to decommission 27 of the 53 F5-Tiger aircraft as well as fortress guns from the Cold War era.

The Swiss air force will consist of 30 F/18 fighter jets and the remaining 26 Tiger planes, as well as helicopters. Last November, the government mooted plans to buy new fighter jets and missile defences for about CHF8 billion by 2025.

Second-hand jets

In a separate move, the government tasked the defence ministry to prepare the acquisition of two used transport jets from the Rega air rescue company.

Parmelin said the two aircraft are to be used to transport members of the Swisscoy contingent stationed in Kosovo, for repatriations of Swiss citizens from abroad, or for deportation flights of rejected asylum seekers.

The purchase of the two planes, planned for 2019, is subject to approval by parliament and is expected to cost CHF13 million. In the past, the government regularly hired aircraft for such missions.

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