Alpine target masters

The Swiss Armed Forces rely heavily on the small but dedicated Zielflugstaffel 12 for ground-to-air target practice. Patrick Dirksen and Frank Mink were invited to take a look behind the scenes and learn more about the daily operations of this unique Swiss Air Force squadron.

Zielflugstaffel 12

PC-9 C-405 (c/n 213) of Zfl St 12 taxies in to its home base of Emmen. The squadron currently has six aircraft and 12 pilots on its books, compared with 35 pilots and eight aircraft a decade ago.
Patrick Dirksen
Pre-flight preparations for Maj Michel in the cockpit. With a maximum speed of 320kts (Mach 0.68) and g-limits of +7 to -3, the PC-9 is well suited to the aerial targeting mission.
Frank Mink Inset: Patrick Dirksen

Zielflugstaffel 12 (ZflSt 12, Aerial Target Squadron 12) flies half a dozen specially equipped Pilatus PC-9s from Militärflugplatz Emmen in the central canton of Lucerne. Commander of the unit – which comes under the direct control of Flugplatzkommando 7 (Flpl Kdo 7, Airfield Command 7) Emmen – is Major Peter ‘Pesche’ Michel, who told AFM: “We’ve had only six PC-9 aircraft since 2017. We also lost the F-5 Tiger from our squadron as of January 1 last year.”

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