Swiss military frets over US jet order

Facing a referendum over its F-35 deal, Switzerland’s defense department has warned that a delay would have ‘grave consequences’

The controversy surrounding the $6.2 billion US F-35A fighter-jet purchase by Switzerland, which is militarily neutral, has engulfed defense officials. They claim any delay would have been detrimental to their ability to defend themselves. “grave consequences” for the country’s security.

Wednesday’s statement by the defense department in Bern came one day after the Swiss government confirmed that organizers of a “Stop F-35”The petition had 100,000 valid signatures and was ready to push for a referendum. Activists have called for the vote to be held in March, the same month as the government’s deadline to close its 36-jet deal with US defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

The Swiss defense department told the nation’s Federal Council that the proposed timetable for the referendum isn’t feasible because the executive branch and Parliament wouldn’t have enough time to “process”Voters have sent a message before Lockheed’s offer ends.

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“The message must be sent to Parliament byThe winter session,” the department saidIn a statement “A delay in the acquisition of the F-35A would have grave consequences for the security of Switzerland.”

Part of the concern is that other countries – including Germany, Finland and Canada – are queuing up to buy F-35s amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Switzerland may be left behind and have to pay more if Lockheed has to renew its contract. It is running to improve its air defenses before 2030, according to the Swiss military.

The However, “Stop F-35” coalition – which includes Switzerland’s Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and an anti-military group — has argued that the US-made attack jets are too expensive and not a good fit for the defense-focused Swiss air force. Military neutrality is enshrined in Switzerland’s constitution, so the country’s air force is limited mostly to patrolling the skies in its own region. Some critics also suggested that the F-35A could entangle Washington’s national security.

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The Swiss government chose the F-35A last year, after also evaluating France’s Rafale fighter jet, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is built by a four-nation group led by Airbus.



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