PARIS --- The Swiss defense ministry expects that all six companies competing for its $9 billion Air2030 air defense program will file their best and final offers by Nov. 18, allowing a final report with recommendations to be submitted to the Federal Council during the first quarter of 2021. Originally set for mid-August, the deadline was moved to Nov. 18 because of the Covid pandemic.
Peter Winter, the official in charge of the Air2030 program, says that, once the bids are received, the project teams will use the information from the second bid and the results of the 2019 in-flight evaluations to determine the pros and cons of each competitor, summarize the results and their risk analysis in the assessment reports and submit them to the Federal Council.
The Air2030 program, for which the Swiss government has earmarked 8 billion Swiss francs, consists of two separate components. One is the procurement of a combat aircraft to replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-18 Hornet fighters; competing for this contract are Airbus, with the Eurofighter; Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Dassault (Rafale) and Lockheed Martin (F-35A), which will cost up to 6 billion francs. Saab pulled out of the competition in June 2019, after the Swiss defense procurement agency said it would be a waste of time and money to bring its Gripen E to Switzerland for an in-flight evaluation.
The second part of the competition is the procurement of a ground-based air defense system, for which Raytheon (Patriot) is competing against Eurosam (SAMP/T), and which will cost up to 2 billion francs.
Apart from the three-month postponement of the BAFO deadline, the Air2030 is unchanged.
The Swiss defense procurement agency, armasuisse, will submit its final reports and its recommendations to the Federal Council during the first quarter of 2021. The reports “will contain all the information that we have gathered and evaluated over the past three years,” Winter says, after which armasuisse will focus on supporting the political process.
The Federal Council is scheduled to proceed with the selection of the combat aircraft and GBAD system during the second quarter of 2021.
By the end of 2021, armasuisse will prepare the Armaments Message 2022 to Parliament, which means that all negotiations must be concluded, and the contracts finalized, by then.
“At the same time, we must continue to demonstrate that the evaluation process is open, transparent and fair, especially once the winners have been selected,” says Winter, “because where there are winners, there are also losers. We will need to explain to the unsuccessful applicants why their system was not selected.”