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Parliament debates Swiss Army budget

The Senate has unanimously approved the army’s defense budget for 2011 – valued at SFr433 million ($478 million).

As Defence Minister Ueli Maurer pointed out on Tuesday, this is just a bit more than half of what was proposed in previous years. Part of the reason is that the military wishes to save money for new jets in the future.

However, the Senate would like to increase the budget by another SFr2.1 million to cover the cost of five new coaches for civilian use. For this reason, the budget will be sent back to the House of Representatives for another round of voting.

The Swiss Army has asked for SFr55 million to buy 72 trucks, 170 delivery vans and five coaches. In particular vehicles over 35 years old will be replaced because they are difficult to maintain.

The House of Representatives has already said it would prefer to skip the coaches, arguing that these are typically commandeered by other departments.

Guided missiles are also on the army’s shopping list, but the exact number is a secret. Maurer said it would be a minimal number – less than 100.

At SFr180 million, this is the most expensive item on the defense budget.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate approved the army’s real estate budget, valued at SFr305 million. Of that figure, the biggest-ticket item is training infrastructure, for which SFr 125 million has been earmarked.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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