Four F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft have arrived in Switzerland to take part in flight evaluations for Swiss Air Force’s Air 2030 fighter replacement program.
The flight evaluations are being conducted at the Payerne Air Base near Bern by the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS – DDPS). During the evaluation, DDPS will assess the jets capabilities specifically its rapid response capacity, performance in mountainous environment, extended air policing ability, and other operational requirements.
The Air 2030 new fighter program, conducted by the Swiss Federal Office for Defence Procurement (armasuisse), will decide the next combat aircraft that will protect Switzerland’s air sovereignty for the next 50+ years. The aircraft selected by the program will replace the Swiss Air Force’s ageing fleet of F-5 Tiger II and F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets.
The five manufacturers who are competing for the deal are Airbus (Eurofighter Typhoon, Germany), Dassault (Rafale, France), Saab (Gripen E, Sweden), Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet, USA) and Lockheed Martin (F-35A Lightning II, USA).
All other aircraft except F-35A and Saab Gripen had already completed the evaluations, according to reports.
The flight evaluations will be followed by a second RFQ by armasuisse in November 2019, which should be answered by the end of May 2020. The findings from the flight and ground trials as well as the knowledge and data gathered from the evaluation of the first offer will flow into this second, updated request for an offer.
From June 2020 to the end of the year, the evaluation report will be prepared and subsequently submitted to the Federal Council for the type selection.