This weekend, various media have discussed a "Plan B" in case the acquisition of 22 Gripen aircraft was refused in the referendum that will be held on May 18, 2014.
The DDPS distances itself from these allegations and will in all cases respect the decisions taken democratically.
According to these media reports, Switzerland could acquire every 15 years a full squadron of 12 fighters that could be financed in the usual way, and which thus would not require approval by referendum. The current fleet of 86 combat aircraft (32 F/A-18s and 54 F-5 Tigers) could be replaced over the long term by 50 to 70 new aircraft, these reports claim.
The DDPS wishes to distance itself from these statements.
It would indeed not acceptable to acquire combat aircraft shortly after a negative decision of the people. The government’s message about the vote makes it clear that the aircraft will not be purchased if the law on the Gripen funds is not approved.
According to the people who made these allegations would lead to a fleet of 50 to 70 aircraft, but their reasoning is confused. Combat aircraft have a lifespan of about 30 years. If we bought 12 combat aircraft every 15 years, the fleet size would be 24 aircraft. This is far too little to ensure the security of Switzerland, and is even lower than the current F/A-18 fleet, without the Gripen.
Moreover, the acquisition of only 12 combat aircraft could, depending on the model, cost 2 to 3 billion francs. In addition, a reduction in the number of aircraft increase economic inconsistencies, as part of the infrastructure is almost independent of the number of units purchased.
Finally, it should be noted that an important reason for the choice of financing the acquisition of Gripen through a fund was to give the possibility of a referendum. From a purely financial point of view, the acquisition of this magnitude could also be done in the normal way, not through a special fund as is now the case.
The DDPS is satisfied that the acquisition of 22 Gripen is necessary for the security of Switzerland and its people. By itself, the fleet of 32 F/A-18 is not enough, and the proposed acquisition is a realistic solution.
DDPS will in all cases strictly conform to the democratic decision.