The Swiss Federal Council announced on Jun. 30, 2021 that the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the aircraft selected from its New Fighter Aircraft competition.
“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.”
Neutral Switzerland will buy 36 F-35As after, as reported by Reuters, an evaluation by the government of the country found the Lightning II as the most advanced, capable and affordable aircraft available for the Swiss Air Force’s future fighter fleet.
The aircraft beat bids from Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, the Rafale from France’s Dassault and the four-nation Eurofighter built by Germany- and Spain-backed Airbus, Italy’s Leonardo and Britain’s BAE Systems.
Voters seven years ago rejected the purchase of Gripen jets from Sweden’s Saab, while the 6 billion Swiss franc ($6.5 billion) funding, which led to the decision to buy the F-35As, was only narrowly approved last year.
The decision to purchase the F-35 came alongside a $2.1 billion agreement to buy the Patriot surface-to-air missile system from US group Raytheon.
According to a Lockheed Martin News release, the Swiss Air Force will receive F-35A aircraft, a sustainment solution tailored to Swiss autonomy requirements, and a comprehensive training program.
The F-35 selection will deliver economic and technical advantages to the nation for decades to come. Swiss industry will have the opportunity to participate in research and development, production and sustainment opportunities that will extend their capabilities into the future. As a new participant in the F-35 program, Switzerland will benefit from Lockheed Martin’s dedication to autonomy and sovereignty in integrating indigenous solutions.
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.
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