Swiss MPs to Vote Today on $6Bn Fighter Buy After Agreeing on Offsets

Air2030: Planning Decree on Combat Aircraft: Parliament May Proceed with Final Vote

(Source: Swiss Dept. of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports; issued Dec. 19, 2019)

Foreign companies that are awarded contracts in the context of the acquisition of combat aircraft must compensate 60% of the contractual value with orders in Switzerland.

This must include 20% of direct and 40% of indirect offsets awarded orders to companies of the technology and security industrial base, namely in the following industrial fields: metallurgical and machine industry, electronics and electrical engineering industry, optical industry, watch industry, vehicle and wagon construction industry, rubber products and plastics, chemicals, aeronautics and space, the computer industry and software engineering, and cooperation with universities and research institutes.

The Council of States approved this proposal by 41 votes and 3 abstentions, and the National Council by 122 votes against 66 and 4 abstentions.

60 percent, but with third industry sectors

The Conciliation Conference became necessary because there were still differences of opinion between the Councils, after each of them had discussed article by article three times. Composed of 26 members (thirteen delegates from each of the committees responsible for the preliminary examination of the concerned project), the conciliation conference presented to the two councils a proposal for conciliation which eliminates all the remaining differences. If one of the councils rejects this proposal, the whole project is deemed to be refused, and the project is thus wound up.

The conciliation was successful. Originally, the National Council followed the proposal of the Federal Council by demanding 20% direct and 40% indirect offsets, exclusively in the field of the security technology and industrial base. The Council of States 40% more indirect compensation in other industrial sectors. It then reduced this percentage to 20%.

Fixed distribution key

With the resolution of the differences, the bill providing for a maximum financial volume of 6 billion francs for the acquisition of new combat aircraft will pass to the final vote in Parliament on December 20, 2019.

The compromise solution diverges on another point of the Federal Council project: the two Chambers asked to enter the key for the distribution of compensatory cases between the different parts of the country, at the rate of 65% for German-speaking Switzerland, 30% for French-speaking Switzerland and 5% for [Italian-speaking] Ticino. These percentages were already included in the Federal Council’s message on the planning order for new combat aircraft.

The date of September 27, 2020 has been retained for a possible referendum poll. The choice of the type of the new combat aircraft and the long-range surface-to-air defense system is expected in early 2021.

The long-range surface-to-air defense system must be acquired for an amount of two billion francs according to the usual procedure.

In the event of a popular vote, it should be stressed that even if the planning decree is accepted by the people, the Federal Council will have to present a concrete acquisition project to Parliament as part of a message on the army (probably in 2022).

For the protection of residents in Switzerland

The Air Force must replace all of its combat aircraft in order to continue to protect and defend the country and its people beyond 2030, including the infrastructure necessary for the proper functioning of society. The 30 F / A-18 Hornet fighter jets will reach the end of their useful life around 2030. As for the 26 F-5 Tiger fighters, which are only operational for the air police during the day and in good visibility, they would have no chance against a modern adversary.


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