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Switzerland kicks off fighter jet competition

Staff Writer |
Switzerland on Friday kicked off a multibillion-franc competition to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 fighter jets, and older model F/A-18 fighters, inviting five European and U.S. weapons makers to submit bids by January.

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The Swiss defence ministry asked for bids from European aerospace group Airbus, France’s Dassault and Sweden’s Saab, as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the United States.

Under its Air2030 programme, Switzerland is seeking to procure new combat aircraft and ground-based air defenses in a programme valued at up to 8 billion Swiss francs ($8.08 billion).

As well as for defence, neutral Switzerland uses fighter jets to police the skies during events like the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Switzerland needs to replace its fleet of Boeing McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C and D Hornets and outdated Northrop F-5 Tigers, all of which are scheduled to be retired in the 2020s.

In November, it said it wants the new planes to be delivered by 2025.

After years of military spending cuts in Europe, weapons makers are keeping close tabs on the Swiss process, as well as other fighter tenders in Belgium, Finland, Germany and at some future point, Poland.

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