Friday, August 27, 2010

Swiss fighter replacement faces further delays

The Swiss government is to re-launch its fighter replacement programme and has postponed selecting a winner until after 2015, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) confirmed to Jane's on 25 August.

The announcement comes less than a week after the DDPS said that it was moving ahead with the CHF2.2 billion (USD2.1 billion) programme and would be submitting its delayed report on the issue to the government in September. The report will be submitted next month as planned, according to a DDPS spokesperson, but the in-service date forecast for the fighters will now be 2020, nearly 10 years after they were first due to enter service.

When the competition to procure at least 22 modern combat aircraft to partially replace the air force's 54 Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter fleet was first launched in January 2008, the winning aircraft was scheduled to enter service in time for the 2010-12 retirement date of the F-5s. This original timetable was put back in March 2009 for unspecified reasons and in December of that year the defence minister, Ueli Maurer, asked the Swiss Federal Council to delay the programme indefinitely so that funds could instead be diverted to the cash-strapped army.

The government will now launch the programme from scratch, according to the DDPS spokesperson.


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