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Switzerland just bought the F-35 fifth generation fighter

Miguel Ortiz Avatar

Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, knives, watches and, of course, neutrality. Although Switzerland stays out of foreign conflicts, it does field a world-class military to protect its borders. This includes a powerful air force that flies such lethal fighter jets as the Northrop F-5 Tiger II and Boeing F/A-18 Hornet. Looking to add a fifth generation fighter to its fleet, the Swiss government signed a deal to acquire the F-35A Lightning II.

Switzerland joined a dozen other current and planned operators of the F-35A (U.S. Air Force)

On September 19, 2022, the contract with Lockheed Martin to provide F-35s to Switzerland was signed following Swiss parliamentary approval the week before. The $6.25 billion procurement deal is for the delivery of 36 F-35s between 2027 and 2030. Switzerland will join other European nations that currently operate the F-35 like Italy and Norway as well as planned operators like Denmark and Finland.

Switzerland acquired its legacy F/A-18 Hornets in the 1990s (Swiss Air Force)

Swiss air doctrine is focused on patrolling the nation’s airspace against foreign incursions. “The F-35 is a multi-role fighter aircraft that is ideally suited to the task of monitoring, protecting and defending Swiss airspace,” Lockheed Martin said in a company statement on Swiss procurement of the F-35. “With radar-evading stealth for air policing and interception, advanced sensors, supersonic speed and range, the F-35 is the most advanced fighter jet in the world- built to ensure national security and sovereignty for decades to come.”

An American F-35A lands at Payerne Air Base, Switzerland during a 2019 evaluation by the Swiss Air Force (Lockheed Martin)

Acquisition of the F-35 was met with resistance by Swiss activists claiming that the advanced fighter was too expensive and more than the country needs, calling it a “Ferrari” option. The group also claims that adding the F-35 to the Swiss Air Force will make it more dependent on foreign supplies and support. Lockheed Martin noted that, “Swiss industry already plays a role in building the F-35, with six suppliers providing components to the aircraft.”

The acquisition of the F-35 has received a mixed response in Switzerland (Lockheed Martin)

The war in Ukraine enters its seventh month as the Swiss F-35 deal goes through. With continued Russian hostility and unpredictability, more and more European nations are evaluating their defense capabilities and upgrading them in the event of future conflict. Switzerland‘s acquisition of the F-35 demonstrates it resolve to field a cutting-edge air force capable of defending against any and all threats.