Military Aviation

U.S. Expected to Buy Back 22 Swiss Air Force F-5 Fighter Jets in 2020

A spokesperson from Armasuisse confirmed that discussions between the Swiss defense procurement agency and the U.S. Navy took place in July.

The fiscal 2020 defense budget for the United States is expected to include funds to buy 22 F-5 jets from Switzerland.

A spokesperson from Armasuisse confirmed that discussions between the Swiss defense procurement agency and the U.S. Navy took place in July.

President Donald Trump is seeking $718 billion in Pentagon funding for 2020, including $39.7 million for the F-5s, an aircraft first delivered to Switzerland in 1978. Nowadays, the U.S. uses the F-5 to play the “adversary” role (i.e. to simulate enemy planes in aerial combat training).

As already reported, the U.S. would use these aircraft to supplement and in some cases replace the 43 aircraft currently in service.

Three reserve command squadrons of former Swiss Air Force Northrop F-5N Tiger IIs, plus three F-5F ‘Frankentiger’ two-seaters, which mated existing F-5F front fuselages with former Swiss rear fuselages, are currently operated by the US Navy and US Marine Corps (USMC). Despite plans to ‘sundown’ the F-5 in 2015, it is now looking at ways to keep them relevant for modern training, and to extend them out past 2030.

Switzerland has been trying to buy new warplanes for years. Voters in 2014 rejected a 3.1 billion-franc ($3.2 billion) order for Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets. Switzerland now plans to spend about 6 billion francs on new fighter jets.

“If the Americans want to take over the scrap iron, they should do it,” Beat Flach, a Green Liberal lawmaker, told SonntagsZeitung, which reported on the planned sale on Sunday. “It’s better than having the Tigers rot in a parking lot.”

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-5N Tiger II VFC-13 Fighting Saints, AF02 / 761536 / 2017

Photo credit: Peng Chen via Wikipedia

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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