The Federal Council has recommended to the Federal Parliament the acquisition of 22 Gripen E (single-seat variants) as part of Armaments Program 2012. Such an acquisition requires a financial commitment of 3.126 billion francs. This funding will be secured through the Gripen Fund Act, which is subject to an optional referendum.
On 25 April 2012, the Federal Council instructed the Ministry of Defence (DDPS) to prepare a draft paper on the acquisition of combat aircraft intended to replace part of the fleet of Tiger fighters (TTE program). In addition, the Federal Council decided to create an autonomous fund to finance this acquisition.
DDPS was therefore also given responsibility, in conjunction with the Finance Ministry, for drawing up a related bill, to be submitted to the Federal Council at the same time as the 2012 Armaments Plan.
Regarding the choice of aircraft, the Federal Council on 30 November 2011 already ruled in favour of the Saab Gripen. This aircraft meets the requirements of the armed forces, and is undoubtedly cheaper than its competitors. It has the best intrinsic cost- value ratio, and offers the lowest operating costs.
The choice of the Federal Council was motivated by the need to acquire a combat aircraft capable of carrying out the missions assigned to it, without necessarily being the highest-performing (and thus most expensive) aircraft, thereby ensuring that other components of the armed forces can be continue to be sufficiently funded.
The 22 Gripen E combat aircraft will replace the air force’s F-5E Tiger IIs, which are now obsolete.
Together with the fleet of 33 F/A-18 Hornets, which will remain in service until 2030, the Gripens will be tasked with airspace surveillance, air police and, if necessary, the defense of national airspace, as well as allowing the air force to restore the basic skills necessary for aerial reconnaissance and the engagement of ground targets - two capacities which had to be abandoned after the decommissioning of the fleet of Hunter in 1995, and of the Mirage IIIRS in 2004.
The bill on the Gripen Fund will finance the acquisition of the aircraft. To allow this, the Gripen Fund will be financed by specific earmarks that are subject to the budgetary ceiling of the armed forces. This shall not generate any extra charge or expenditure for the Confederacy.
These earmarks will be spread out over ten years, and generate balanced expenditure for the armed forces budget and for federal finances; it will also avoid concentrating payments over too short a time.
This will result in greater security in planning other weapon acquisition projects, and excessive credit balances can be avoided to a large extent.
Consequently, the acquisition of the Gripen depends on the entry into force of the Federal Law on the Acquisition Fund of the Gripen fighter aircraft (Gripen Fund Act). This is based on a special financial fund, as defined by Art. 52 of the law of October 7, 2005 on the finances of the Confederation (RS 611.0), and is subject to an optional referendum.
Expenses related to the Gripen acquisition will be balanced by compensatory offset business, and will therefore benefit the entire Swiss economy.
Foreign suppliers have undertaken to compensate 100% of the acquisition contract’s value through offset orders awarded to Swiss industry. There are, however, no similar obligations for Swiss suppliers, government agencies and for minor small acquisitions from third parties.
The total volume of offset is currently estimated at 2.5 billion francs.
This will generate additional know-how for Swiss industry, and bring added value to its high-technology industrial capabilities. The expected volume of offsets is equivalent to about 10,000 man-years of economic activity.
The operations and maintenance of the Gripen will maintain, and even create, specialized work positions over the long term. The acquisition of Gripen will have a positive impact on the regions in which military airfields and military training facilities are located, since it will support, and possibly create, high-tech jobs in these regions in industry, technology and services, as well as in the armed forces.