Military Aviation

Airbus, Boeing, Dassault and Lockheed Martin Faced-Off for Swiss fighter contest at Zigermeet Airshow

“The Lightning II is the only fifth generation fighter among the shortlisted aircraft under Switzerland’s Air2030 program. The F-35 can do what other fighters can’t,” Lockheed Martin Spokesperson.

Taken by our friend Andrew Timmerman from Finn Aviation Photography, the interesting photos in this post feature the most interesting participants in Zigermeet Airshow.

Held at Mollis Air Base, Switzerland between Aug. 15 and Aug. 17, 2019 Zigermeet took place two months after the Swiss Air Force ended the evaluation for the five types of combat aircraft under consideration (Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-35A and the Saab Gripen E) to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 fighter jets, and older model F/A-18C/D fighters.

Noteworthy not all the shortlisted aircraft were present at the airshow. The fighters under consideration by the Swiss Air Force for the service Air2030 Program which flew in the skies over Mollis were a German Air Force Typhoon, a French Air Force Rafale and a Swedish Air Force Gripen.

The displays performed by the European fighters highlighted the power and maneuverability of each aircraft.

Boeing instead was not present at the airshow with its F/A-18 Super Hornet. However the solo display of another Boeing product, the F/A-18C flown Nicolas “Vincent” Rossier from Swiss Hornet Display Team, was one of the highlights of Zigermeet.

Lockheed Martin did not bring a real F-35 but a mockup of the Lightning II drew the attention of the crowd towards the only western stealth fighter available on the market today.

“Even though we don’t have an F-35 flying at Mollis we believe we had offered to the Swiss Air Force the best aircraft,” Lockheed Martin personnel told to The Aviation Geek Club. “The Lightning II is the only fifth generation fighter among the shortlisted aircraft under Switzerland’s Air2030 program. The F-35 can do what other fighters can’t. For instance thanks to its stealthiness it can be used to lead a strike package in enemy air space. By contrast because of its unique situational awareness the F-35 can act like a quarterback and ‘telling’ to legacy fighters which target to kill.”

As we have previously reported Saab has withdrawn from Air2030 program just days before the company’s Gripen E was due to arrive in the country for flight evaluations.

In a terse communique issued Jun. 13, Saab said it had been “formally recommended” by the Swiss national armaments agency, Armasuisse, not to participate in the flight trials. 

Switzerland had initially chosen the Saab Gripen E fighter but had to cancel that order after a 2014 referendum rejected the choice.

Hence the remaining lineup of contenders are the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II.

Photo credit: Finn Aviation Photography

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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