Swiss Lawmakers Approve Controversial Purchase of F-35A Fighters

Photo Credit: MSgt John Nimmo Sr. / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: MSgt John Nimmo Sr. / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Lawmakers in Switzerland have voted to move forward with the controversial purchase of 36 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lighting IIs. The deal will go ahead without a referendum vote, which political opponents had called for under the country’s direct democracy system.

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II in flight
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. (Photo Credit: Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen / U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The lower house, better known as the National Council, is the one that gave the Swiss government the go-ahead to purchase the F-35As, following approval from the Council of States, the upper house that represents the country’s cantons. In June 2021, the decision was made to acquire the fighter aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Switzerland has until March 2023 to sign the contract.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is “the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter jet in the world,” and was developed as a replacement for the US Air Force’s aging fleet of Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons. A number of countries have ordered the aircraft in recent months, including Canada, Finland and Belgium.

Overhead view of Switzerland's parliamentary members
Swiss Parliament. (Photo Credit: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images)

The deal has angered many political opponents, particularly from the Socialist and Green parties, who argue Switzerland will become too dependent on the United States if the purchase goes through. Green Party parliamentarian Marionna Schlatter also told the media that the country doesn’t need aircraft that can carry nuclear bombs.

The majority of opponents, organized under the “Stop F-35” alliance, have dubbed the deal a “Ferrari” option, which should be voted upon under a referendum. However, despite presenting the 100,000 signatures necessary to launch one, the government has denied the request, saying the deal would expire before a vote could be organized.

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II taxiing down the runway
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. (Photo Credit: Ministerie van Defensie / US Air Force / Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0)

In September 2020, Swiss voters narrowly approved the deal to replace the country’s F/A-18 Hornet fleet, with the vote receiving the support of 50.1 percent of those who participated. The American-built F-35A beat out Eurofighter‘s Typhoon and Dassault‘s Rafale, despite the latter lobbying for its aircraft to be chosen. This information was leaked in July 2022 to broadcaster SRF.

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The first F-35As are scheduled to be delivered to Switzerland in 2025. The deal, which is slated to cost six billion Swiss francs, is the largest military purchase the country has ever made.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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