Switzerland has announced it has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II as the winner of its New Fighter Aircraft competition to replace the Northrop F-5E and McDonnell Douglas F-18C/D in service, and that it will acquire 36 F-35As.
The announcement follows an extensive evaluation of four contenders – which included the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Eurofighter EF-2000, and the Dassault Rafale – and a national referendum which narrowly passed to allow the funding for the project.
“We are honoured 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,” Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program, Bridget Lauderdale said in a company statement. “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.”
The US Defense Security Acquisition Agency (DSCA) advised in September 2020 that Switzerland had been approved to acquire the F-35A.
In summary, the DSCA notification included 40 aircraft, six spare P&W F135 engines, a package of 100 AIM-9X live, training, and captive carry air-to-air missiles, a small number of GBU-54 JDAM and GBU-53/B SDB II GPS guided bombs, electronic warfare systems, Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS) and Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) access, simulators, reprogramming centre access, and a package of training, spares, logistics, and other support services.
Swiss opposition groups have criticised the decision, comparing the F-35 to a “Ferrari”, although the Swiss Government said the F-35A represented the “highest overall benefit at the lowest overall cost,” when compared to the rival bids.