Switzerland selects F-35 as new fighter

The Swiss Federal Council announced on June 30 that Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II had been selected as the winner of its next-generation fighter procurement programme, with the type seeing off an array of international rivals to win the key competition.

With the deal agreed, Switzerland will become the fifteenth country to join the F-35 programme of record, joining several European current or future operators including the UK, Netherlands, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Poland and Denmark.

USAF F-35A
The F-35 has a formidable record of success in the procurement programmes in which it has been allowed to compete. USAF/Airman 1st Class Codie Trimble

An intensely fought programme saw the fifth-generation stealth fighter competing against the pan-European Eurofighter, France’s Dassault Rafale and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, which would replace Switzerland’s ageing fleet of F/A-18 Hornets.

"We are honoured to be selected by Switzerland and look forward to partnering with the Swiss government, public, air force and industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft," said Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin's vice president and general manager of the F-35 programme.

According to a Lockheed Martin release the Swiss Air Force will receive F-35A aircraft, a sustainment solution tailored to Swiss autonomy requirements, and a training programme. To date, the F-35 operates from 21 bases worldwide, with nine nations operating F-35s on their home soil. There are more than 655 F-35s in service today.

An earlier possible Foreign Military Sale announcement in 2020 detailed the programme could see 40 F-35 aircraft sold to Switzerland for an estimated cost of US$6.58bn.

The same year the Swiss public voted as to whether the New Fighter Aircraft programme would be allowed to proceed, with 50.1% voting for and 49.9% against, according to official figures.