The Swiss government wants to buy 36 of the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in a deal expected to be worth $6.5 billion.
The Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive branch, announced Wednesday it will replace its aging F-5 Tiger and F/A-18 Hornet fleets with the fifth-generation F-35A for up to 6 billion Swiss francs over 30 years.
The Swiss also want to buy five Patriot ground-based air-defense systems from U.S. firm Raytheon, for another 2 billion francs, or about $2.16 billion, over the same time frame.
“An evaluation has revealed that these two systems offer the highest overall benefit at the lowest overall cost. The Federal Council is confident that these two systems are the most suitable for protecting the Swiss population from air threats in the future,” the Swiss said in a statement.
Lockheed beat out Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Airbus’s Eurofighter and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, in competing for the Swiss air force program known as “Air2030.” The name comes from the thinking that the country's current planes will hit the end of their service lives by 2030.
The Swiss added that they chose the F-35 after a “comprehensive technical evaluation” of the four candidates, in which they compared the cost, effectiveness and how easy the planes were to operate. The F-35 came in as the cheapest and was “the only aircraft that has been designed from the ground up to be especially difficult for other weapons systems to detect.”
The United States already approved the sale in September 2020, preemptively clearing a F-35 and F/A-18 sale to Switzerland as it was unclear which aircraft Bern would choose.