The Federal Council was informed at its meeting on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 by Defense Minister Guy Parmelin of planned preparations for the evaluation of a new fighter.
By the spring of 2017, an internal expert group will publish a report addressing all questions relating to the need, the procedures and the industrial aspects of the search for a new fighter. An external expert group will accompany this work.
In 2017, funding for planning, testing and procurement preparation (known as EEP in Switzerland) for the procurement of a new fighter to will be submitted to Parliament. The Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS) will begin preparatory work in the spring of 2016.
Expert Group and Summary Report
The Minister of Defense will establish an expert group with representatives of the relevant departments of Army, armasuisse and the MoD General Secretariat. By January 2017, these experts will publish a report addressing all questions relating to the requirements, procedures and industrial aspects. The experts will also address the future of the in-service aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet and F-5E Tiger II jet fighters. The expert group will be chaired by the Chief of Staff, and will be supervised by the Chief of Defence and the Chief of Armament (armasuisse).
Advisory Group and External Perspective
In the spring of 2016, the ministry of defence (VBS) will also set up a monitoring group made up of one member from each of the political parties represented on the Federal Council. In addition, representatives of the VBS and other departments as well as industry and the Swiss Officers' Association will be represented on the group. The advisory group will follow the work of the expert group, discuss basic aspects of procurement and interact with the expert group. However, its brief will include approving or rejecting the report of the expert group.
F-5 Tiger and F / A-18 Replacement
The procurement of 22 Gripen-E aircraft to replace the Tiger fleet was rejected in May 2014 by the people in a referendum. This decision, however, has not changed the fact that a replacement is necessary for the 54 Tiger II fighters that have been in service for over 30 years. Of the 54 aircraft now in service, only about 30 are still operational. The question of the replacement of the 31 F / A-18 now also needs to be addressed. These aircraft are technically suitable, but will reach the end of their service life in 2025. To extend their service life by 5 years will require an investment estimated at about half a billion Swiss francs.
The request for the EEP 2017 funding is the formal start of the project for the procurement of a new fighter. According to current planning, selection of the preferred fighter type will take place in 2020, the acquisition funding request will be submitted to Parliament in 2022, and the new aircraft will be delivered beginning in 2025.