Swiss plans to acquire a fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters marked a significant step forward on September 19, when Switzerland’s federal office for defence procurement, armasuisse, announced that the procurement contract for 36 aircraft had been signed.
The contract – worth 6.035bn Swiss Francs ($6.14bn) – was signed by Switzerland’s National Armaments Director, Martin Sonderegger, and the Swiss F-35A programme manager, Darko Savic, at armasuisse in Bern on September 19. For their part, the relevant US authorities had already signed their end of the contract. With the signing of this contract, the procurement of 36 F-35As to replace the Swiss Air Force’s legacy Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet and Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II fighter fleets was contractually agreed, with deliveries scheduled to take place between 2027 and 2030.
In addition to the aircraft, the multi-billion dollar contract also covers the provision of mission-specific equipment, weapons and ammunition, along with a logistics package, mission planning systems, training systems and initial training for Swiss Air Force pilots and ground crews. It also includes the costs for integrating the F-35A into the Swiss command-and-control (C2) system, a risk amount, the inflation in the US – the country of the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin – and for support services by industry. The VAT on imports is also included, according to armasuisse.
“The prices and contractual conditions are defined bindingly in this contract and are also enforced by means of strict supervision,” armasuisse added in a press release. Given that the Swiss electorate has approved the maximum financial volume of this deal, Switzerland and the US have negotiated a specific clause and signed a separate declaration which establishes the not-to-exceed fixed price nature of the F-35A procurement agreement.
Along with the procurement contract, Savic – along with the head of Switzerland’s Air2030 programme, Peter Winter – also signed an offset agreement with Lockheed Martin, allowing the US-based aircraft and defence equipment manufacturing giant to conduct offset business with Swiss industry. With this deal, Swiss firms will receive contracts worth approximately 2.9bn Swiss Francs ($2.95bn).
Switzerland announced its intention to acquire a fleet of F-35As, along with five Raytheon-produced Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, following their recommendation by the Swiss Federal Council on June 30, 2021. This recommendation came on the basis that the acquisition of the F-35A and Patriot SAM system under the Air2030 programme presented the highest overall benefit at the lowest overall cost.