Council of States Wants to Give More Money to the Military
(Source: Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport; issued June 15, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by
The Swiss defense budget will increase by 1.4 % in real terms between 2021 and 2024, allowing all planned acquisitions to be funded through the normal budget, notably including 8 billion francs for the Air2030 fighter and air-defense missile buys. (Swiss MoD graphic)
The Council of States has adopted five federal decrees relating to the 2020 Message on the Military, including one relating to an expenditure ceiling of 21.1 billion Swiss francs for the period 2021 to 2024.

As several major army systems will reach the end of their service life over the coming years, significant investments will have to be made. The acquisition of new combat aircraft and a long-range surface-to-air defense system (Air2030 program) takes priority.

At the same time, ground troops will have to be modernized and cyber defense strengthened. Investments of nearly 15 billion francs will be required over the next ten years for these replacements: 8 billion francs to protect airspace and 7 billion francs for other components of the military.

Real growth rate of 1.4% per year

All military expenses are funded from the regular budget. Parliament is required to approve a spending limit for four years. An initial ceiling had been set at 20 billion francs for the development of the military to cover expenses from 2017 to 2020. In addition to investments, this amount also covers operating costs amounting to 3 billion francs per year.

In order to finance investments over the next few years, the Federal Council forecasts, for the period 2021 to 2024, a real growth rate in the current military budget of 1.4% per year. This more or less corresponds to the average real growth in Confederation spending. Thus, the spending limit that the Federal Council submits to Parliament stands at 21.1 billion francs.

The Council of States unanimously adopted the federal decree on the spending limit. It welcomes the fact that the project forecasts a real growth rate of the current military budget of 1.4% per year. This increase should allow the renewal of several systems in the coming years. It also welcomes the fact that its Security Policy Committee will be dealing with the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the Confederation’s financial planning in general and on that of the military in particular in the coming months.

Commitment appropriations of 2.7 billion

The appropriations which the Federal Council proposes to Parliament for the investments of the military are divided between the armament program (1.354 billion francs), the acquisitions of equipment (837 million francs) and the defense ministry’s real estate program (489 million francs).

They have three priorities: first, it is about improving command capabilities, in particular by investing in crisis-resistant telecommunications. Second, the appropriations will be used to modernize the ground troops, particularly in the area of disaster relief and that of infantry combat vehicles. To quote Defense Minister Viola Amherd, "Land forces' capabilities must be more focused on a hybrid model of conflict. The military must be mobile and able to support civil authorities even better in future.” Third, there are plans to continue to reduce the real estate inventory.

No counter proposals

The Council of States finds it important to improve command capabilities. It also commends the effort to modernize the land forces, particularly in the areas of disaster relief and that of infantry combat vehicles. The investments are expected to lead to a reduction in the army’s building stock in the medium and long term. No proposal has been made against the corresponding federal decrees. The Council of States unanimously adopted the armaments program, the acquisition of army equipment and the DDPS real estate program.

The Message on the Military was transmitted to the National Council.

Retirement of Rapier

The Council of States unanimously approved the withdrawal from service of the Rapier defense system. Acquired in the 1980 (60 fire units and first-generation guided missiles) and 2001 (second-generation guided missiles) armaments programs, the Rapier mobile anti-aircraft system can no longer cope with current air threats. Today’s adversary fires his missiles far beyond the range of the Rapier system, which cannot engage these missiles as they approach. In addition, due to the lack of spare parts, entire systems must already be gradually dismantled to use their components. This is why the Rapier system cannot continue to be used beyond the end of 2022, and must then be taken out of service.


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