Stop F-35 Initiative Submits Petition Against Jet Purchase to Swiss Chancery

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  • 11:29 AM, August 23, 2022
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Stop F-35 Initiative Submits Petition Against Jet Purchase to Swiss Chancery
F-35A Lightning II fighter @F-35 JPO

The “Stop F-35” initiative that opposes the Swiss government’s plan to acquire 36 new F-35 Lightning II fighters from America’s Lockheed Martin handed over 103,000 certified signatures to the Federal Chancellery on August 16, to challenge the deal.

Swiss parliament in 2019 approved a nearly $6 billion) deal to buy the jets after it evaluated Boeing’s Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Airbus’ Eurofighter Typhoon. The new aircraft will replace McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornets and Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II jets of the Swiss Air Force.

The government argued the F-35A offered the best quality-price ratio as compared to its competitors.

The potential contract was rubber-stamped by Swiss voters the following year, but opponents soon started collecting signatures to force a new popular vote. The “Stop F-35” campaigners claim the U.S. jet is too expensive and unsuited to Switzerland’s modest air defense needs. The opponents claim that the operating costs will be high, even if the purchase price is relatively low, and this has been proven in studies carried out in Canada, the U.S. and Norway.

“The F-35 is and will remain a financial risk that will cost Swiss taxpayers billions more than previously promised. The stealth bomber designed for the attack causes ongoing cost overruns in other countries such as Canada, the USA and Norway due to numerous technical defects and threatens to become a second Mirage scandal in Switzerland,” SP National Counselor Prisca Seyler Graf said.

Adding to concerns was U.S.’ grounding of F-35s in July over faulty ejection seats, the official website of the initiative notes.

It is still unclear if and when the vote may take place. The coalition – the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party and the Group for a Switzerland without an Army (GSoA) – says a popular vote could take place before March 12, 2023, swissinfo.ch reported.

The government initially planned to wait for the outcome, but decided to sign the contract before it expires in the end of March 2023, keeping the situation in Ukraine in mind. It fears that the same price or delivery deadline offered by the U.S. might not be guaranteed if the deal has to be renegotiated or pushed back, particularly as other countries, including Finland, Germany and Canada, are also queuing up to buy the jets, the report said.

A similar initiative had blocked the acquisition of 22 Gripen E fighters from Sweden’s Saab in 2014.

Some politicians and lobbyists also point to inconsistencies in the fixed price stated in the offer, AeroTime Hub writes. Notably, the documents of the Federal Office of Armaments or the Armasuisse make several mentions of “estimated costs.” After auditing the acquisition program, the Federal Audit Office called upon Armasuisse to complete the financial aspects of its risk assessment.

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