Switzerland selects F-35 Lightning II for future air defense requirements

Switzerland selects F35
Switzerland selects F-35 Lightning II.

June 30, 2021 - The rumors recently circulated on the web about the procurement of the F-35 by Switzerland were officially confirmed today by Lockheed Martin and the Swiss Federal Council.

"We are honored to be selected by Switzerland and look forward to partnering with the Swiss government, public, air force and industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft," said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin's vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program. "With the selection, Switzerland will become the 15th nation to join the F-35 program of record, joining several European nations in further strengthening global airpower and security."

Under the Air2030 tender, the Swiss Federal Council has decided to procure 36 F-35A combat aircraft. The stealth fighter won over the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Rafale thanks to the highest score in the evaluation criteria and the most affordable price.

"The F-35A achieved the best result because it has a marked technological advantage over the other candidates: it includes entirely new, extremely powerful and comprehensively networked systems for protecting and monitoring airspace. The F-35A is able to ensure information superiority; this means pilots benefit from a higher situational awareness in all task areas when compared with the other candidates. This is especially true for day-to-day air policing.

What is more, the F-35A is the only aircraft that has been designed from the ground up to be especially difficult for other weapons systems to detect. The resulting high survivability is a great advantage for the Swiss Air Force.

In addition, because the F-35A is comparatively easy to operate and is able to provide information superiority, it requires less training and has a better ratio of flight to simulator hours. Because of this, the F-35A requires about 20% fewer flight hours than other candidates, and about 50% fewer take-offs and landings than the Air Force’s current jet aircraft, which the F-35A will be replacing," Swiss Federal Council said.

In addition to the benefits, the F-35A also achieved by far the best result in terms of costs. 

"Both procurement and operation costs are the lowest for this aircraft. At the time the bids were made in February 2021, the procurement costs amounted to CHF 5.068 billion – well under the financial cap of CHF 6 billion set by voters. Even when accounting for inflation up to the time of payment, procurement costs will remain below the credit limit.

The F-35A also has the lowest operating costs of all of the candidates evaluated. The total costs of the F-35A (i.e. procurement plus operating costs) amounts to approximately CHF 15.5 billion over 30 years. This is around CHF 2 billion less than the second-lowest bidder," Swiss Federal Council said.

Thanks to the successful result obtained in Switzerland, Lockheed Martin strengthens the F-35 sales campaign in Europe, which is also competing for a big deal in Finland.

To date, the F-35 operates from 21 bases worldwide, with nine nations operating F-35s on their home soil. There are more than 655 F-35s in service today, with more than 1,380 pilots and 10,670 maintainers trained on the aircraft.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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