By John Revill
ZURICH, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Switzerland, which final fought a international struggle greater than 200 years in the past and has no discernable enemies, desires to spend billions on new fighter jets.
Many oppose the concept, saying the impartial nation neither can afford nor wants cutting-edge warplanes to defend Alpine territory which a supersonic jet can cross in 10 minutes.
Eire, Malta and Luxembourg do not have jets, they are saying, making the 6 billion Swiss franc ($6.6 billion) plan a waste of cash.
“Who’s our enemy? Who’s attacking a small, impartial nation – surrounded by NATO?” requested Priska Seiler Graf, a member of parliament for the left-leaning Social Democrats. “It is actually absurd.”
Voters get their say on Sunday Sept. 27. Approving funding within the binding referendum would let the federal government determine subsequent 12 months among the many Eurofighter from Airbus, the Rafale from France’s Dassault, Boeing’s F/A-18 Tremendous Hornet, or the Lockheed Martin F35-A Lightning II.
The plane would substitute Switzerland’s growing old fleet of 30 F/A-18 Hornets which is able to exit of service in 2030.
Seiler Graf mentioned cheaper options, reminiscent of a fighter model of Leonardo’s M346 coach, supplied higher worth than the “costly toys” into account.
“We’d like new plane, that’s not disputed, however shopping for lighter, less complicated plane can be sufficient,” she mentioned. “It might be higher to have a Fiat than a Maserati.”
Voters six years in the past rejected the acquisition of Gripen jets from Sweden. In 1989 a proposal to scrap its total military received 35% of voter help.
Pollster Lukas Golder from GFS.Bern mentioned voters are more likely to again the plan to purchase the jets. Armed neutrality is essential to how Switzerland defines itself, he mentioned, going again to the idea a powerful military deterred invasion by Nazi Germany in World Conflict II. The Pope’s Swiss guards are additionally a reminder of the nation’s mercenary previous.
Lawmaker Thomas Hurter from the right-wing Swiss Individuals’s Social gathering, a former air power pilot, mentioned Switzerland needed to shield itself with out counting on different nations.
“If we do not substitute these outdated plane, which means now we have no air power, there isn’t any safety any extra and we’re not fulfilling our structure,” he mentioned.
Smaller jets couldn’t fly excessive sufficient, he mentioned, or have the acceleration wanted to react rapidly to emergencies.
“We do not know what is going on to occur within the subsequent 50 years,” Hurter mentioned. “It’s essential to have the hearth brigade prepared when there’s a burning home, in any other case it is too late.” ($1 = 0.9082 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Revill Modifying by Peter Graff)