The head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS), Federal Councilor Ueli Maurer, has instructed the armed forces and armasuisse to undertake an in-depth review the air force’s long-term armaments planning, and to examine the feasibility of modernizing the current fleet of F-5 Tiger combat aircraft.
The Federal Council's decision to postpone indefinitely the purchase of new combat aircraft for the partial replacement of the Tiger F-5 creates a dangerous gap in the field of air defense. Parliamentary interventions could potentially accelerate the acquisition of new aircraft.
Regardless of this, the army and armasuisse must develop, as part of forward planning, the basis for decision-making at the political level.
The goal is to present the government with a comprehensive overview of the missions, resources and commitment of the Air Force for the next 15 to 20 years, as well as the corresponding acquisition of weapons.
In this regard, armasuisse must submit by the end of 2011 a study showing whether it is feasible to modernize and upgrade the current F-5 Tiger fighters.
This feasibility study was requested by the head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS), Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer. The priority is to ensure the operational capabilities of the Air Force.
The armed forces cannot afford capability gaps which would compromise its ability to carry out its assigned aerial missions. Currently, the F-5 fighters can only operate in daytime and with good visibility.
Upgraded F-5 Tigers could support and assist the air force’s fleet of 33 F/A-18 Hornets in the execution of its air policing tasks.
This modernization would help fill the capability gaps until a future partial of the Tigers. This will in all likelihood not be decided before 2019, and the new aircraft would then be available from about 2025.
The mandate of the Federal Council, issued in autumn 2010 and requiring the DDPS and the Federal Department of Finance to investigate, by the end of 2011, the possibility of funding the partial replacement of the Tiger remains unchanged.