BERN --- Federal Councilor Viola Amherd wants to get a complete picture of the Air2030 program, which includes the acquisition of new jet fighters and a new surface-to-air defense system, before submitting to the Federal Council a proposal for the rest of the process. To this end, she had requested three additional reports, namely an additional opinion by Claude Nicollier on the expert report on Future Air Defense, an assessment of offset opportunities written by Kurt Grüter, as well as a threat analysis conducted within the DDPS.
The head of the DDPS, Federal Councilor Viola Amherd, took note of these reports. She will take into account the results in further work on the Air 2030 program. It is expected that the Federal Council will decide before the summer of the form in which it wants to present the acquisition of new fighter jets and a new ground-to-air defense system to Parliament. On a technical level, the flight and ground evaluations of the aircraft of the five candidates are under way.
State of the threat: need for sufficient means of protection of the airspace
Drafted under the guidance of Pälvi Pulli, the DDPS officer responsible for Security Policy, the threat status report provides a current assessment of the threat and compares it to the analysis that formed the basis for the modernization decisions of the means of protecting the airspace in recent years. This report concludes that no significant change is affecting the need to acquire new means of protecting the airspace and that sufficient combat aircraft and ground defenses will continue to be required to effectively protect and defend Swiss airspace. The negative evolution of the international security situation over the last two years, and the time constraints associated with these acquisition projects, make the action all the more urgent.
Click here for the full report (17 PAF pages, in French) on the DPPS website.
Compensatory cases: no full compensation
In his report, external expert Kurt Grüter acknowledges the Confederation's efforts to increase the transparency of compensatory cases. However, there is still room for improvement. Kurt Grüter also notes that countervailing cases violate the principle of free trade and industry. This mechanism must therefore be used exclusively and specifically to strengthen the Swiss industrial base, which is essential for the security and defense of the country. In addition, only direct compensatory cases and indirect compensatory cases relating to technology and the security industry are relevant.
The report recommends giving up other indirect compensatory cases. In this context and given the volume of 6 to 7 billion francs, a compensation of 100% would be difficult to achieve. Direct compensatory cases of the order of 20% and indirect compensatory cases of the order of 40% for technology and the security industry are more realistic, provided that the quality of the ad hoc industrial programs is carefully evaluated in the comparison of offers.
Click here for the full report (32 PDF pages, in French) on the DPPS website.
Additional External Opinion on the Expert Report: A Planning Order for the Combat Aircraft
Claude Nicollier formulated an independent opinion on the experts' report on Future of Air Defense, in parallel with his teaching role at EPFL. He notes the exceptional quality of the report, as well as the relevance of its content, praising the care provided and the great professionalism of the experts. He believes that this report launches the renewal of air defense assets on a solid and consistent basis. He is furthermore of the opinion that the content of the report should be sanctioned as the basis for all work, closely or indirectly related to the Air2030 project.
In addition, Claude Nicollier recommends proposing a new draft planning decree concerning only the combat aircraft and stating that the Federal Council will in no case make the decision on the type of aircraft before knowing the results of a possible optional referendum. Of the four options presented in the report, Claude Nicollier recommends strongly favoring the second option: replacing the current fleet with forty or so modern combat aircraft and renewing the surface-to-air defense, while putting in place all that is possible to get as close as possible to the available financial envelope.
Click here for the full report (25 PDF pages, in German) on the DPPS website.