Swiss Voters Approve $6.5Bn Fighter Jet Buy by Razon-Thin Margin

 In E3, Italy, Air, Germany, Forces & Capabilities

Wafer-Thin Majority Approves New Fighter Jets (excerpt)

(Source: Swissinfo; posted Sept. 27, 2020)

The Swiss gov­ern­ment flirt­ed with a second defeat in six years, before scrap­ing over the line to win the ref­er­en­dum by less than 9,000 votes. In gen­er­al terms, French- and Italian-speak­ing can­tons voted against, and German-speak­ing can­tons voted for. (Tages Anzeiger graph­ic)

By a margin of just 9,000 votes, Swiss cit­i­zens have given a cau­tious all-clear for a multi-bil­lion pur­chase of new fight­er jets for the air force.

In the end, 50.2% of voters approved the CHF6 bil­lion ($6.49 bil­lion) fund­ing pack­age after a sur­pris­ing after­noon that left poll­sters unable to call the result until the last minute.

Projections over the past weeks had shown clear accep­tance for the gov­ern­ment-backed plan, which will see the army replace its ageing fleet of F‑5 Tigers and F/A‑18 jets by 2030.

Lukas Golder of the GfS Bern research insti­tute said on Sunday that the high turnout of urban voters, who are gen­er­al­ly more crit­i­cal of the army, may have driven the close result. The cost of the plan and the cur­rent “pan­dem­ic effect” were also deci­sive, he said.

Defence Minister Viola Amherd wel­comed the vic­to­ry and said the gov­ern­ment would now pro­ceed with the eval­u­a­tion of four fight­er models bid­ding for the con­tract: the Lockheed-Martin F‑35, Boeing’s Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, and Airbus’s Eurofighter Typhoon.

Popular Vote

(Source: Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport; issued sept. 28, 2020)

(Unofficial trans­la­tion by

In the vote of September 27, 2020, the Swiss people voted in favor of the acqui­si­tion of a new fight­er plane, by 50.1 per­cent of voters. Turnout was 59.4%.

Procedure con­tin­ues

During the first quar­ter of 2021, a choice will be made among the dif­fer­ent types of combat air­craft and long-range sur­face-to-air defense sys­tems on offer.

Eurofighter Typhoon (Eurofighter, GB-DIE), F / A‑18 Super Hornet (Boeing, United States), Rafale (Dassault, France), F‑35A (Lockheed-Martin, United States), as well as the SAMP / T (Eurosam, France) and Patriot (Raytheon, United States) sur­face-to-air defense sys­tems are cur­rent­ly being eval­u­at­ed.

Even if the plan­ning decree relat­ing to the new combat air­craft has been accept­ed by pop­u­lar vote, the Federal Council will present the acqui­si­tion more con­crete­ly to Parliament in the mes­sage on the army, prob­a­bly in 2022, and accord­ing to the planned finan­cial limits (air­craft 6 bil­lion francs, ground-to-air defense 2 bil­lion francs).

The new fight­er jets as well as the long-range sur­face-to-air defense system will then likely be deliv­ered between 2025 and 2030.


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