The courtship for Swiss airspace has come to an end: The Federal Council today decided in favor of the F-35 from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin. The “Ferrari of the skies” is not without controversy. Defense Secretary Viola Amherd explains why they chose the US jet anyway.
Federal Councilor CVP
The CVP politician was elected to the Federal Council at the end of 2018 and took office as head of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport in 2019. Before that, she sat on the National Council for the CVP Upper Valais for over ten years. She was also mayor of Brig-Glis.
SRF News: The Federal Council has opted for the most modern aircraft, which should also be the cheapest. That’s where I prick up my ears. Don’t you?
Viola Amherd: No. We made an evaluation based on the offers submitted, according to clearly defined criteria. Tests have also been carried out in Switzerland. The result was that this plane was technically cutting edge, at the best price. Perhaps it is less surprising to see that this is the aircraft that has sold the most – that also has an impact on the price.
It has also been heard that the flight hour on the F-35 is twice as expensive as on the others. How can it be that the operating costs have died anyway?
The offers and our tests show that this aircraft is also up-to-date in operation. We rely on the binding offers and our own reviews. And not for any information that you don’t know where it came from.
We decide for ourselves which data we want to pass on and which not.
Isn’t it dangerous to just rely on the manufacturer’s instructions?
We have learned from the mistakes made in Gripen procurement and carried out our own tests in Switzerland. We only looked at planes that were already in service. It is not just information from the manufacturer, but binding offers that are part of the contracts that the manufacturers must adhere to.
You said that the airfields have to be adjusted for every jet. It is said that the F-35 die requirements of the US government in terms of privacy and espionage protection are particularly strong and die higher.
We checked that and it is not. We already have a high standard of infrastructure in Switzerland. That is why the needs for the new jets are less high for us than for a country that previously parked its jets in open terrain. You have to reckon with adjustments of around 100 million Swiss francs, that would be the same for every type of aircraft.
The F-35 is also the most connected jet. Evil tongues claim that the CIA is in the back of the cockpit and can overhear everything.
The offer states that we decide for ourselves which data we want to pass on and which not. We have autonomy over our data. There is a lot of technical data that is interesting for the exchange, but we decide whether we should pass something on.
According to the evaluation report, the jet is three decibels louder than the F / A-18. That means it’s as loud as two F / A-18s dying together.
In the vicinity of an airfield, where planes take off and land anyway, three decibels do not seem like a doubling of the noise. Sure, it’s three decibels. But we will have 50 percent fewer take-offs and landings, and that has an impact on all the noise pollution.
The left has announced an initiative. Will that delay the procurement process?
It is to be expected that we will have delays in signing the contract, but I cannot say how long that will be. But we will integrate procurement into the 2022 Army Message so that Parliament can discuss it.
The interview was conducted by Urs Leuthard.
Tonight in «10 to 10»
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