“With air policing one of Switzerland’s primary requirements for its new aircraft, the F-35 offers unmatched capabilities,” Drew “Growler” Allen, Operations Division Chief in the F-35 Integration Office.
The F-35 Lightning II strikes over Switzerland.
As already reported Switzerland kicked off the fly competition last April for the five types of combat aircraft under consideration (Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-35A and the Saab Gripen E) to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 fighter jets, and older model F/A-18 Legacy Hornet fighters at Payerne Air Base, Bern.
Under its Air2030 program in fact, the country is seeking to procure new combat aircraft.
On Jun. 7, 2019 the staff of The Aviation Geek Club had the chance to attend the demonstration of the fourth contender, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which followed that of the Eurofighter Typhoon which took place on Apr. 12, that of the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet which took place on Apr. 30 and that of the Dassault Rafale which took place on May 21.The following 34th Fighter Squadron ‘Rude Rams’ F-35As arrived at Payerne on Friday May 31, 2019:
13-5077, 13-5079, 13-5081, 13-5083, all HL coded.
These U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-35As were involved in aerial and ground tests that checked the capacities of the aircraft and the data of the offers submitted by the different manufacturers.
In selecting the F-35, Switzerland would join the 13 other nations worldwide to recognize the increasingly sophisticated threat environment by providing a highly sophisticated response.
As Col. Drew “Growler” Allen, Operations Division Chief in the F-35 Integration Office, Headquarters United States Air Force, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., told to The Aviation Geek Club, “with air policing one of Switzerland’s primary requirements for its new aircraft, the F-35 offers unmatched capabilities.”
Internal fuel tanks and weapons bays, along with innovative design features, mean the F-35 is a very low observable (or stealth) aircraft, with a nearly undetectable radar signature.
State of the art sensors and radar on board the aircraft give the pilots a total picture of the operating environment and full interoperability means that the aircraft is the eyes and ears for supporting ground and air forces.
When combined, the sensors, radar and stealth features mean that would-be aggressors can be identified and tackled with minimal threat to the F-35 operator.
The aircraft can be dispatched rapidly and climbs quickly. “With a high thrust engine and internal weapons, the F-35 is able to remain airborne longer than any of its competitors,” Alan Norman, Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot, explained to The Aviation Geek Club.
This makes the F-35 a formidable gatekeeper. And as a true multi-role aircraft, it can be adapted to whatever missions it may be required for in decades to come.
The last aircraft to be evaluated by the Swiss Air Force will be the Saab Gripen E, with the aircraft due to arrive by mid of June.
Switzerland had initially chosen the Saab Gripen E fighter but had to cancel that order after a 2014 referendum rejected the choice.
This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2019.