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.”
Photo credit: Peng Chen via Wikipedia
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