As Rafale, F-18 Super Hornets and F-35 jets clash for Swiss fighter jet contract, Airbus has proposed a defense deal worth $6.5 billion to Bern, offering to assemble the Eurofighter Typhoon in Switzerland, a Swiss newspaper reported.
This comes as the Swiss Cabinet announced that it is going to finalize one among the Eurofighter, the Dassault Rafale, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F35-A Lightning II to replace its aging F/A-18 Hornets.
Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain, which collectively manufacture the Eurofighter, have also stated that they would offer Bern sweeping political cooperation if their fighter jet wins the Swiss contest between the two US and two European fighters.
Bernard Brenner, head of sales at Airbus Defence and Sales, was quoted by the SonntagsZeitung paper as saying that neutral Switzerland should not have to go by this evaluation alone.
“The economic and political elements are just as important”, he added, as reported by The Economic Times.
According to the paper, Airbus has submitted a 700-page dossier on economic “offsets” alone, referring to side deals that funnel contract costs back to local suppliers. The defense ministers of Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain wrote to Swiss government last year offering not just military cooperation such as training, but also partnerships in economics, energy, science, the environment, transport, cybersecurity, and infrastructure, Brenner told the paper.
The F-35 exhibited the best technical and financial features in a Swiss evaluation, though the jury is still out, Swiss television reported. The government is torn between those supporting the F-35 and those who favor a European deal to help improve relations with the European Union after Switzerland ditched a draft bilateral treaty after years of talks.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American fifth-generation single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighter jet. Considered the most technologically advanced airplane ever built, it combines high-end stealth with unmatched situational awareness.
France has been pushing Bern to pick the Rafale jet and many experts had termed it as a favorite to win the competition.
A twin-engine omnirole combat aircraft, the Rafale is a 4.5 generation fighter jet with a delta wing and canard design capable of air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions armed with advanced weaponry including air-launched cruise missiles.
On the other hand, Joe Biden had stressed the F-35 and F/A-18 during his visit to Geneva, a day before the US-Russia summit. The Defence Ministry has refused to further comment on the process.
Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported quoting various media reports, Dassault Aviation looked hot contender to sign a contract with the Swiss Air Force for Rafale jets over F-35 stealth aircraft and Typhoons.
Reportedly, Swiss politicians had initially supported purchasing the Boeing F-18 Super Hornets or the F-35 stealth 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.”