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

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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