Swiss Parliament instructs Federal Council to purchase F-35A fighter jets

09.15.2022 – In the Army Dispatch 2022, the Federal Council is requesting commitment appropriations totaling CHF 9.3 billion. These appropriations include Federal Orders

  • on the acquisition of F-35A fighter planes (6.035 billion) and the resulting construction work (120 million),
  • on the acquisition of the Patriot surface-to-air defense system (1.987 billion), and the construction work resulting there from (66 million),
  • on the acquisition of army equipment 2022 (695 million),
  • on the 2022 DDPS real estate program (349 million).

F-35A and Patriot

The acquisition of the 36 F-35A combat aircraft was fiercely debated in the National Council, especially with regard to the passage providing for the signing of the purchase contract no later than the end of March 2023 (expiry date of the validity offers). The National Council’s Security Policy Commission here supports the Council of States’ proposal. Concretely, this means that the Federal Council must sign the contracts before the popular initiative “Stop F-35!”, launched on August 31, 2021 and filed on August 16, 2022, can be put to the vote. The Federal Council supports this procedure.

Defense Minister Viola Amherd recalled that in June 2021, the Federal Council had chosen the F-35A, “the combat aircraft which presented the greatest overall utility during the evaluation and which was at the same time the cheapest. Since the adoption of the Dispatch on the Armed Forces by the Federal Council in February 2022, the framework conditions have changed considerably. Several states increased their defense budgets after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Many countries, including in Europe, have ordered or will order the F-35. If the offer deadline for the acquisition of the F-35A were to be exceeded, delays in delivery and higher prices should be expected.

And with regard to the safeguarding of popular rights, the leader of the DDPS referred to the popular vote of September 27, 2020: “The planning decree immediately gave citizens the opportunity to decide on the acquisition of combat aircraft. And this, in knowledge of the cost framework and the four types of aircraft offered. The discussion was therefore able to be conducted in complete transparency before the popular vote on the planning decree and it was. People’s rights were therefore respected at all times.

This is also the opinion of the majority of the National Council. All motions to dismiss, dismiss and amend were rejected. By 122 votes against 64 and 1 abstention, the National Council gives power of attorney for the signature. He approves the federal decree itself by 124 votes against 66.

He also supports the acquisition of 5 Patriot fire units and passed the corresponding federal decree by 174 votes to 1 with 13 abstentions.

Army equipment and additional acquisitions

Due to the evolution of the threat situation with the war in Ukraine, the Council of States decided, during its deliberations on the message on the army during the summer session, to increase this year the army expenditure of 300 million francs for additional acquisitions. The National Council followed this proposal.

• It approves the increase in the federal decree on the acquisition of army equipment by 175 million francs for the acquisition of a second series of 12 cm 16 mortars and by 110 million francs for the reinforcement of self-protection in cyberspace as well as in the electromagnetic space (establishment of a cyber situation monitoring center and a replacement site; acquisition of additional mobile cyber defense means installed on vehicles; improvement of the degree of protection of the Swiss pipeline network).

• It approves an increase of 15 million francs in the “Project studies, tests and preparations for purchases” commitment credit within the framework of the federal decree on the acquisition of army equipment and on the program of Armament 2022. The aim here is to prepare for the acquisition of new command vehicles which, as mobile command posts, will improve the ability to conduct troops on the ground. Being able to be equipped with new generation radios, they will thus be better protected against cyberattacks.

The Federal Council supported these proposals. The National Council approves the federal decree supplemented by 126 votes against 40 and 27 abstentions.

Real estate

The DDPS real estate program for 2022 was not debated by the National Council, which adopted it by 189 votes to 1 with 1 abstention.

The message on the army was adopted by Parliament. Federal Councilor Viola Amherd informed the National Council that the contract for the purchase of the F-35 would be signed shortly.

Decommissioning of the F-5 Tigers

In the message on the army, the Federal Council proposes the decommissioning of the F-5 Tiger fighter planes. From his point of view, the 25 jets no longer have any combat value or utility, and cost around 44 million francs a year in operating costs. During the summer session, the Council of States did not discuss the project. The National Council follows suit by 104 votes against 89 and 2 abstentions. The majority is convinced that it is necessary to wait for an F-35A squadron to be in service before decommissioning the F-5s. The latter are able to judiciously perform different tasks, such as aggressor missions for air combat training, and thus spare the more expensive F/A-18s for more important tasks.

Source DDPS

Unofficial translation by EDR On-Line

Photo courtesy DDPS