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Majority back army but fewer want new jets

While only a minority of Swiss believe F-5 Tiger fighter jets should be replaced, a majority have expressed support for the country's armed forces.

This content was published on August 4, 2008 - 18:46

Two-thirds oppose replacing the ageing Tiger, according to a study conducted by the polling firm Institute Demoscope. Nevertheless, 70 per cent of respondents said Switzerland needed an army and 78 per cent said the army was well prepared to handle current threats.

The results come amid pressure on the defence minister, Samuel Schmid, who has endured calls to quit following resignations by the head of the air force and commander of the army within weeks of each other.

The Blick tabloid released the survey results on Monday, the same day as the Swiss air force outlined its timetable to test replacements for the Tiger.

The defence ministry said it had been conducting daytime testing from its base in Emmen on the Swedish-built Saab Gripen fighter since July 28. It will be conducting night flights from August 5 to August 12.

In an interview published in the Blick, Schmid said he was not surprised by the results of the survey, but argued that the air force needed to replace the Tiger to continue its mandate.

The air force also said it would test the two other candidates – the French-build Dassault Rafale and the Eurofighter – in October and November.

In June, the pacifist group Switzerland without an Army launched a petition to block the government from purchasing new fighters.

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