Swiss leaders shrug off referendum on F-35 deal — Analysis

Bern lawmakers have approved controversial US fighter jet purchases without waiting to vote.

Swiss legislators have given final approval for the country’s controversial  purchase of F-35 fighter jets from the US, ignoring a successful petition drive that was supposed to force a public vote on the issue.

Switzerland’s lower house National Council voted to approveOn Thursday, Lockheed Martin and the US Defense Contractor approved a $6 billion contract. Three dozen F-35s were previously authorized by the Council of States.

The Swiss government, which got voter approval in 2020 to modernize the country’s fleet of fighter jets at a cost of up to $6.3 billion, reached a preliminary agreement with Lockheed Martin last year after choosing the F-35 over France’s Rafale, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the multinational Eurofighter Typhoon.

Opponents have argued that although voters narrowly approved the fleet modernization, they didn’t agree to the F-35, which is too expensive and not a good fit for militarily neutral Switzerland’s defense-focused air force.

Swiss military frets over US jet order

In a statement last month, the government stated that “Stop F-35”An opposition group had collected the 100,000 signatures necessary to force a referendum.

The Swiss defense department argued that there wasn’t enough time to hold the vote before Lockheed Martin’s offer expired. Or the government will face higher prices and longer delays for their jets if it does not sign the contract by March 2023. F-35s are being purchased by other countries like Canada, Finland, Germany and Finland amid Russia-Ukraine conflicts.

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