Swiss Parliament Approves 21Bn Franc MoD Spending Plan for 2021-2024

(Source: Swiss Ministry of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport; issued Sept. 23, 2020)

After the Council of States, the National Council adopted the five federal decrees relating to the 2020 Statement on the Military, including the one setting the expenditure ceiling at 21.1 billion francs for the period 2021 to 2024.

As many of the military's major systems will reach the end of their useful life in the next few years, significant investments will be needed. Priority is given to the acquisition of new combat aircraft and a long-range surface-to-air defense system (Air2030 program). At the same time, land forces must be modernized and cyber defense reinforced. Investments of nearly 15 billion Swiss francs (CHF) will be needed over the next ten years for this modernization: CHF 8 billion for airspace protection and CHF 7 billion for other components of the military.

Real growth rate of 1.4% per year

All military expenditures are funded from the regular budget. Parliament has to approve a spending limit for four years. An initial ceiling had been set at CHF 20 billion as part of the development of the military for the years 2017 to 2020. In addition to investments, this amount also covers operating expenses, which amount to 3 billion per year.

In order to finance investments over the next few years, the Federal Council forecasts, for the period 2021 to 2024, a real growth rate of the current army budget of 1.4% per year. This more or less corresponds to the average real growth in Confederation spending. Thus, the Federal Council has now submitted to Parliament an expenditure ceiling of CHF 21.1 billion.

The National Council adopted the federal decree relating to the expenditure ceiling by 124 votes to 65 and 1 abstention, and welcomed the fact that the project foresees a real growth rate of the current army budget of 1.4% per year.

This increase should allow the renewal of several systems over the coming years. As Defense Minister Viola Amherd told Parliament that regular investments are being made in cyber defense, and pointed out that the government proposes to invest in military telecommunications of the army and the Florako airspace surveillance system.

The Minister of Defense recalled that the share of Confederation expenditure devoted to the army has fallen sharply since 1990. “The army has only been able to partially renew its equipment and adapt it to the threat. current. Considerable investments will have to be made over the next few years. They will be fully funded from the regular army budget. "

A CHF2.7 billion appropriations

The appropriations that the Federal Council proposes to Parliament for military investments are distributed between the armament program (CHF1.354 billion), the acquisition of military equipment (CHF837 million) and the defence ministry’s real estate program. (CHF489 million). Three priorities are targeted:
-- First, to improve the ability to conduct, in particular through investments in crisis-proof telecommunications.
-- Second, commitment of funds to modernize the land forces, in particular in the area of disaster relief and infantry combat vehicles.
-- Third, there are plans to continue reducing the housing stock.

Grenadier tanks opposed

The majority of the National Council believes that it is fundamental to improve driving skills by making investments in crisis-resistant telecommunications systems. In addition, it is in favor of the planned modernizations. It considers that the mobility of the land forces must remain assured and consequently approves the appropriation of CHF438 million francs to extend the service life of the “Grenadier Tanks 2000,” otherwise known as infantry fighting vehicles, until 2040.

The parliamentary left opposed this measure, believing that a traditional war involving armored vehicles is no longer imaginable. To this, Defense Minister Viola Amherd responded by noting that the army must continue to consider having to deal with opposing formations fighting in a conventional manner. By 124 votes to 65, the National Council adopted the extension of the service life of grenadier tanks. In addition, it rejected various proposals to reduce commitment appropriations as well as a proposal to limit to 5% instead of 10% the possible increase in commitment appropriations through appropriation transfers. By 124 votes to 60 with 5 abstentions, the National Council adopted the armaments program.

In addition, the National Council approved the acquisition of army materiel by 123 votes to 55 and 11 abstentions, and the DDPS real estate program by 177 votes to 3 and 9 abstentions. All proposed amendments were rejected.

Retiring the Rapier

The National Council approved the withdrawal from service of the Rapier anti-aircraft system by 178 votes to 4 and 6 abstentions. Acquired through the 1980 (60 fire units and first-generation guided missiles) and 2001 (second-generation guided missiles) Armament Plans, the Rapier mobile anti-aircraft system can no longer cope with current air threats.

Today's adversary fires his missiles far beyond the range of the system, which makes it impossible to combat such weapons on approach. In addition, due to the lack of spare parts, complete systems are already having to be phased out in order to obtain replacement parts. Therefore, the Rapier system cannot continue to be used beyond the end of 2022 and must then be decommissioned.

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