‘Neutral’ & ‘Unsure’: Switzerland To Vote On Upgrading Its Air Force As Rafales, Typhoons & F-35s Vie For Business

The people of Switzerland are set to vote on a proposal on September 27, for replacing its ageing fleet of 30 F/A-18 Hornets. However, many dissenting voices believe that the neutral country does not need high-end fighters calling it a ‘waste of money’.

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According to a report in Reuters, the lawmakers of the country are planning to replace its fleet of F/A-18 hornets that go out of service in 2030 with the new fighters with the budget of 6 billion Swiss francs ($6.6 billion).

Eurofighter from Airbus, the Rafale from France’s Dassault, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, or the Lockheed Martin F35-A Lightning II are all hot contenders in the race.

File:Swiss Air Force Super Puma Swiss Air Force PC-7 Team - Royal International Air Tattoo 2015 (19924773656).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Swiss Air Force Super Puma Swiss Air Force PC-7 Team – Royal International Air Tattoo 2015 Wikimedia Commons

“Who is our enemy? Who is attacking a small, neutral country – surrounded by NATO?” asked Priska Seiler Graf, a member of parliament for the left-leaning Social Democrats, reported Reuters. “It’s really absurd.” She further added that cheaper alternatives should be considered and “buying lighter, simpler aircraft would be enough”.

The report further added that six years ago, voters in the country rejected the purchase of Gripen jets from Sweden. However, Pollster Lukas Golder from GFS Bern told the news agency that the voters may agree to back the plan to buy new jets this time. Armed neutrality is crucial to how Switzerland defines itself, he said, going back to the belief a strong army deterred invasion by Nazi Germany in World War II.

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About two hundred years ago, Switzerland was acknowledged as a neutral state in the Treaty of Paris. The last war that the country fought was five hundred years ago, against France. The country follows the strategy of ‘Armed Neutrality’ which means that it maintains a sizable army to isolate itself and to defend itself from foreign powers.