The Swiss army wants to invest CHF2 billion ($2 billion) this year, including on high-performance bullet-proof vests for every soldier. It also plans to sell off around half of its fleet of F-5 Tiger fighter jets.
The total budget of CHF2.053 billion, approved on Thursday by the House of Representatives but still to return to the Senate, would be spent on modernising certain systems of the air force, supplementing soldiers’ equipment and development training infrastructure.
This figure is similar to previous years and would be allocated as follows:
The politicians also gave their backing to the most controversial item on the army’s shopping list: new combat gear for every soldier, costing CHF3,000 per person, including a high-performance bullet-proof vest. This will cost the army a total of CHF377 million – something that has divided politicians, with some questioning whether every single soldier needs such a vest. The plan is to introduce the equipment in 2022 and use it for around 25 years.
The army plan for 2018 also includes, for the first time, the decommissioning of major weapons systems. The army will offload 27 of its 53 F-5 Tiger fighter jets. Four have been donated to historical collections; the others have been grounded and potential buyers found, according to the government.
The Tigers have been used for several decades in the Swiss Air Force, having been acquired in 1976 and 1981. The remaining 26 aircraft will continue to be used to free up the F/A-18s from ancillary tasks. The latter will thus be able to continue to protect Swiss airspace until the acquisition of new fighter jets.
(Adapted from French by Thomas Stephens), swissinfo.ch