Switzerland has selected the US-made F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft (over Eurofighter Typhoons, Rafale jets, and F-18 Super Hornets) to become a part of the country’s fighter fleet, defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin said on Wednesday.
“The Swiss Federal Council announced Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is the aircraft selected from its New Fighter Aircraft competition,” Lockheed Martin said in a release.
“The Swiss Air Force will receive F-35A aircraft, a sustainment solution tailored to Swiss autonomy requirements, and a comprehensive training program.”
Switzerland will become the fifteenth nation to join the F-35 program after several European nations and will provide Swiss industry with an opportunity to participate in research and development, and production processes, the release said.
As of today, F-35 aircraft operate from 21 bases worldwide while nine nations operate F-35s on their home soil. In total, there are more than 655 F-35s in service, with more than 1,380 pilots and 10,670 maintainers trained on the aircraft, according to the release.
F-35: Predicted To Win
Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, the F-35 exhibited the best technical and financial features in a Swiss evaluation, though the jury is still out, Swiss television had reported.
There were reports that the Swiss government is split between those supporting the F-35 and those who favor a European deal to help mend relations with the European Union after Switzerland ditched a draft bilateral treaty after years of talks.
There were also media reports earlier which stated that the Swiss politicians had initially approved acquiring the F-35 fighter jets but later changed their minds. Leader of the Socialist group Roger Nordmann was quoted in the report as saying, “Buying the American F-35s, which are the most expensive jets, is excluded.”
Neutral Switzerland will buy 36 F-35As after an evaluation found it had “the highest overall benefit at the lowest overall cost,” the government said.
Lockheed Martin overcame bids from Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Rafale from France’s Dassault Aviation and the four-nation Eurofighter built by Germany and Spain-backed Airbus, Italy’s Leonardo and Britain’s BAE Systems.
Opponents Rejecting The F-35 Fighter Jets
Meanwhile, the opponents of the F-35 jets have been upset with the expensive deal and have pledged a new referendum to reverse what they called an unnecessary “Ferrari” option, Reuters reported.
Opponents say Switzerland doesn’t need fighter jets like F-35 to defend the country which a supersonic jet can cross within 10 minutes.
The choice to acquire the F-35s is unfathomable said Priska Seiler Graf, a member of parliament who was concerned about the jet’s extraordinary cost. “It’s not just about buying them, but the upkeep and operating costs.” “We should seek a European solution … we don’t want to be dependent on the United States.”
Jonas Kampus from Switzerland without an Army said he was certain of winning a vote against the F-35s. The government “can expect a heavy defeat in the vote. The follow-up polls displayed a clear dismissal of the F-35 amongst the people.
Marionna Schlatter, a lawmaker with the Greens Party said the September poll was too close to ignore opposition concerns and people did not want a Ferrari in the air.
With Inputs from Sputnik and Reuters