Military Aviation

Swiss Air Force evaluates Dassault Rafale Omnirole aircraft to replace its ageing fighter fleet

The Dassault Rafale, with its “Omnirole” capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by the Swiss Government.

As already reported Switzerland kicked off the fly competition 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-18 Legacy Hornet fighters at Payerne Air Base, Bern.

Under its Air2030 program in fact, the country is seeking to procure new combat aircraft.

On May 21, 2019 the staff of The Aviation Geek Club had the chance to attend the demonstration of the third contender, the Dassault Rafale, which followed that of the Eurofighter Typhoon which took place on Apr. 12 and that of the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet which took place on Apr. 30. Dassault brought to Payerne two twin-seater Rafale omnirole fighters (B301 and 354/4-FU) for aerial and ground tests. These tests checked the capacities of the aircraft and the data of the offers submitted by the different manufacturers.

As a spokesman for the company told to The Aviation Geek Club, the Rafale, with its “Omnirole” capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by the Swiss Government.

It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft.

The Rafale participates in permanent “Quick Reaction Alert” (QRA) / air-defense / air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties.

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

Noteworthy the Swiss procurement agency asked the firms to submit pricing for 30 or 40 planes, including logistics and air-to-air missiles, as well as an assessment of the number of aircraft necessary to fulfil the Swiss Air Force’s needs.

The next aircraft to be evaluated will be the Lockheed Martin F-35, with the aircraft due to arrive by the beginning of June.

In a separate news the Swiss government announced on May 16 that will split off its purchase of new fighter jets from the procurement of an air defense missile system.

However the two programs will proceed in parallel, the Swiss cabinet said. It will also drop the offset requirements to 60 percent, down from 100 percent.

Photo credit: Gabriele Barison

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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