With ‘one-off’ in Switzerland, F-35 is pushing European fighter makers away from their own territory

With ‘one-off’ in Switzerland, F-35 is pushing European fighter makers away from their own territory

The Swiss government’s signing of a final purchase contract for the F-35 and the withdrawal of the public referendum on the purchase of 36 aircraft this week indicate the presence of Paul William Telleske for Lockheed Martin.
LMT
A real blow to European fighter aircraft manufacturers.

On Monday, the Swiss Federal Armaments Office (Armasuisse) went ahead with confirming the final agreement to purchase $6.2 billion of 36 F-35A Lightning IIs despite an ongoing initiative to force a referendum on a specific selection of the F-35. The initiative collected enough signatures for a public vote, but was withdrawn on Tuesday in a surprise move by its organizers.

In explaining the withdrawal, proponents of the ‘Stop F-35A’ initiative said a nationwide vote would not be meaningful because it could not change the course of the deal. “We are withdrawing the initiative with a heavy heart. We do not want to introduce a sham vote where voters cannot have a real say in the actual purchase decision,” the SPD’s co-chair of the Zurich canton, Priska Seller Graf, told Swiss public radio SRF.

Barring potential long-term legal challenges, the purchase of the Swiss F-35 appears to be a The reality And the attractive victory of the F-35 in a European country that was once seen as the least likely to be considered. But the fact is that all the important continental powers from Poland in the east to Norway in the northwest have bought the F-35. Pending purchases by Finland, Germany and the Czech Republic also fill in the map. Add the nearby UK and it’s fair to say that Europe is “the country of the F-35”.

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The latest news is clearly additional fuel for Lockheed Martin, which said it expects to have more than 550 F-35s based in Europe by 2030. That may not be all.

In August, Spanish newspaper El Paísreported that the Spanish Air Force Command has recommended the purchase of up to 80 F-35s as a near-term option to replace aging F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harriers along with an existing purchase of Eurofighter Typhoons.

With the retirement of Spanish Hornets and Harriers rapidly approaching this decade and delays and political infighting within the Franco-German-Spanish future combat aircraft system (FCAS), the Spanish military leadership acknowledges the obvious; The Lockheed Lightning II has become NATO’s “virtual” fighter, and is the only fifth-generation aircraft currently available.

The Spanish government hastened to stand aside pes The report confirmed that it does not have the budget to enter into any other aircraft project besides FCAS. “We have ruled out entering the F-35 project. Our commitment to investing in FCAS is our commitment,” a spokeswoman for the Spanish Ministry of Defense said.

But recent reports of conflict over work-sharing, the direction and development of the fifth-generation fighter that FCAS is supposed to produce, does not bode well for its achievement in anything less than 15 years in the future if that. During this period, the F-35 should be available, and despite its cost and drawbacks, it is getting better.

The Swiss government’s choice of the F-35 is based on its lower life expectancy than the fourth-generation and fourth-generation competitors it has been facing including Dassault’s Rafale and Eurofighter’s Typhoon. The F-35’s interoperability with other NATO air and land forces was a strong selling point that would only apply on the surface in the ocean to theoretically neutral, non-NATO Switzerland.

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But the history of the tactical training of the Swiss Air Force in the United States was reinforced by a recent history – the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even with its strong financial ties to Russia and decades of cordial welcome to Russian oligarchs, Switzerland was as irritated by Putin’s pursuit of Kyiv as its European Union neighbors.

Putin is undoubtedly the best seller of Western defense equipment of all time. He was also great at persuading neutral nations to either join NATO or just buy standard NATO equipment,” says Richard Aboulafia, managing director of consultancy AeroDynamic Consulting.

Others pointed out that Russia’s ruthless adventure only gave an additional impetus to the recapitalization of the already underway European fighter fleets from third and fourth generation aircraft to the fifth. With Europe’s original late-to-party efforts including the UK-Italy Tempest programme, the F-35 was able to fill the void.

“For European defense producers, this [Swiss] Development is accelerating what they’ve known for some time – an illusion [fighter sales] Hopes depend on the Middle East, India and other customers in the Indian Ocean,” asserts Abulafiya. “With significant sales to the UAE
The United Arab Emirates
Egypt and India, that was good for Dassault. Can Britain and its partners meet the challenge with Typhoon and/or Tempest? Will Saudi Arabia come again? [Eurofighter] slice? All this matters even more now that Europe (with the exception of Greece) is out of reach.”

Well-known financial constraints in Greece may prevent the purchase of the F-35, but the country has placed a formal order for 20 F-35As by 2028, and Lockheed Martin has acknowledged that talks are underway between the company, Greek officials and Lockheed Martin. Athens has also ordered 24 Rafales from Dassault, but if its financial picture improves and US-Turkish relations remain strained, it may turn to Lockheed for additional aircraft.

Portugal, the current operator of the F-16, may be a secondary target for Dassault or the Eurofighter due to its economy and unconventional approach to reinvesting in its air force. But the example of Switzerland showed that Lockheed’s stealth fighter is able to emerge effectively and sell itself in unexpected places. It has, for all intents and purposes, driven European fighter makers out of their lands for at least the next two decades.

With the U.S. NGAD (Next Generation Air Dominance) fighter program waiting in the wings—perhaps beyond public recognition—the only salve for European projects may be the limitations on Lockheed’s ability.

“Now, the big question;” Abu Al-Afia says. “Given that demand for the F-35 justifies 180-200 planes per year, how long will it take Lockheed Martin and its suppliers to get past the 150 or so planes in the year they manage to get there?”

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