Swiss Air 2030: Second RFP has been issued to the manufacturers of fighter aircraft

Lockheed Martin F-35A

On January 2020, armasuisse has issued the second request for proposal for new fighter aircraft to the government authorities where the four potential suppliers are located: Germany (Airbus Eurofighter), France (Dassault Rafale) and the USA (Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed-Martin F-35A). The second request for proposal is based on the analysis of the first proposal and on findings from flight, simulator and ground tests as well as audits with armed forces operating the evaluated fighter aircraft. In the second request for proposal, the companies contacted via the government authorities are requested to submit the most advantageous offer for Switzerland.

Swiss officials have unveiled details of their envisioned reboot of the country’s aerial warfare and air-defense complex, setting the stage for purchases of aircraft and ground-based missiles totaling more than $8 billion. Buying the aircraft makes up the lion’s share of the Air 2030 program, at roughly $6 billion. The purchase of ground-based air-defense weaponry accounts for the rest.

The proposal should include the following elements:

  • Prices for 36 and 40 aircraft, including defined logistics and weapons, as a binding starting point for the detailed negotiations with the selected candidate after the type selection
  • Offers for cooperation between the armed forces and the procurement authorities of Switzerland and those of the supplier country
  • Envisaged or already initiated offset projects

The starting point for determining the number of fighter aircraft are the requirements to cope with a situation of increased tension. In such a situation, the Swiss Air Force must be able to permanently conduct air patrols with at least four aircraft for at least four weeks in order to preserve air sovereignty, prevent un-authorized use and violations of Swiss air space and thus contribute to keep Switzerland out of armed conflict. In addition, the Swiss Air Force will use the new fighter aircraft for air policing around the clock, and, in case of armed attack, defend the air space for a limited period of time and support the ground forces.

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The proposal submitted by manufacturers also have to include a cooperation offer between the armed forces and the procurement authorities of Switzerland and those of the supplier country.

The tests carried out in recent months allowed the Swiss army to assess the ability of several fighters — here the Airbus Eurofighter, the Dassault Rafale, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed-Martin F-35A — to carry out the Air Force missions. Indeed, the Swiss Air Force “must be able to permanently conduct air patrols with at least four aircraft for at least four weeks in order to preserve air sovereignty, prevent unauthorized use and violations of Swiss air space and thus contribute to keep Switzerland out of armed conflict”, underscores the DDPS. Air policing thus remains the keystone activity of Swiss fighters.

Switzerland which last fought a short war in 1847, a neutral country in WWII, has struggled in the past to persuade citizens to spend money on procurement of military equipment. In 2014, around 52% of Swiss voted against spending 3.5 billion franc to buy 22 Gripen fighter jets from Saab instead of spending the 3.5 billion franc on social security.

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