The Acquisition of New Combat Aircraft Supported in Committee
(Source: Swissinfo; posted Sep. 02, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The terms and conditions for the acquisition of new fighter jets will be debated in Parliament this fall, but the Security Policy Committee of the Council of States does not want to downgrade the requirements for compensatory cases.

The commission unanimously agreed to discuss the draft presented by Defense Minister Viola Amherd. It welcomed that the draft decision will be challengeable by referendum, committee chairman Josef Dittli (PLR / UR) told reporters Monday night.

The Swiss will not vote to choose an airplane type, but only on the principle of the purchase. The Federal Council will decide on the type of jet after the popular vote, which should take place in September or November 2020.

The commission also supports the financial volume of the acquisition, a maximum envelope of six billion francs, noted Mr. Dittli. But by 8 votes against 3 and 2 abstentions, it differs from the proposals of the Federal Council on countervailing (offset) measures.

Foreign companies entrusted with mandates in connection with the acquisition of the jets will have to compensate 100% of the contract value by granting mandates in Switzerland. The government planned 60%, of which 20% directly program-related and 40% indirectly in the field of the technological and industrial base related to security.

Eleven more industry areas

The committee proposes to add 40% for eleven additional areas. These include the machinery industry, metallurgy, electronics, optics, watchmaking, vehicle and wagon construction, rubber and plastic products, chemicals, aerospace and space, computer science and cooperation with universities and research institutes.

For the majority, 100% compensation is a proven practice, explained Dittli. A minority wants to stick to the 60% of the Federal Council. It also calls for an appropriate division of mandates between the different regions.

By 10 votes to 2 and 1 abstention, the committee also wants to include a distribution of compensatory cases in the regions. This would be shared by 65% in German-speaking Switzerland, 30% in French-speaking Switzerland and 5% in Ticino. This compromise is more likely to come before the people, according to the majority, said Dittli.

Ground-to-air system excluded

The commission agrees to exclude the purchase of a long-range ground-to-air defense system from the project. The Federal Council wants to include it in the framework of ordinary weapons programs. The order specifies, however, that the acquisition of the jets will be coordinated, from a technical and calendar point of view, with the ground-to-air defense.

By 10 votes to 3, the committee rejected a proposal for referral to the Federal Council for the program to include ground-to-air defense. The socialist minority also wanted the volume of funding to cover the purchase of new fighter jets and this new defense system.

By 2030

The delivery of the new fighter planes is to be completed by the end of 2030. Their acquisition is proposed to the Federal Assembly as part of an annual armaments program.

Four jets were evaluated between April and June in Payerne (VD) to replace the Tigers and F / A-18 of the air force. The French Rafale (Dassault), the European Eurofighter (Airbus) and the two American planes: the successor of the FA-18, the Boeing Super Hornet, and the F-35A Lockheed-Martin. Sweden's Saab has withdrawn the Gripen E from the evaluation.

The current fighter planes will reach the end of their service life at the latest by 2030. If they are not replaced in time, the armed forces will no longer be able to fulfill their mission. The proposed acquisition process will take more than ten years.

The last two jet purchase projects were marked by a popular vote. The acquisition of F / A-18 was made possible after the failure in 1993 of the popular initiative opposing it. The purchase of Gripen was rejected in 2014 after a referendum voted against the fund that should have been set up to finance it.

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