The evaluation phase of Switzerland’s ongoing fighter assessment for a new-generation combat aircraft is underway. The current flight trials follow an earlier exercise whereby Swiss officials tested the aircraft models involved in simulators in the countries of each manufacturer.
Five fighter types are involved in the latest competition, a reboot of the defunct Tiger Partial Replacement (Tiger Teilersatz, or TTE) that collapsed after being rejected via a popular referendum held on May 18, 2014. These include the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Lockheed Martin F-35A, and the Saab Gripen E.
The Eurofighter is one of five types of combat aircraft that are being tested in flight and ground in Payerne from April to the end of June. The two Airbus Eurofighters (Germany) took off on 9 April 2019 from Warton (UK) and landed the same day in Payerne. The Eurofighter is stationed until 17 April 2019 on the Payerne Air Base.
The flight and ground trials for the five contenders are being run through late June/early July in alphabetical order of manufacturer (Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin and finally, Saab). This brings the German-British Airbus team under the microscope for the first part of April, with Boeing following at the end of the month.
Switzerland is undertaking a comprehensive air defense modernization approach under its “Air 2030” program. This program involves replacements for the Swiss Air Force’s aging fleet of both F-5 Tiger and F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters and its ground-based anti-aircraft defense architecture.
The aim is to bring both a new air defense network and a new combat aircraft platform fully online by 2030, with the procurement process unfolding in the early 2020s and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the new fighter type to be declared by 2025.
Procurement of the 30-40 new combat aircraft is expected to consume $6 billion of the total $8.2 billion earmarked for the program.
Under the Air 2030 concept, government officials want at least four aircraft available for fighter interception missions at any given time.