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The Swiss Federal Council has decided to purchase 36 Lockheed Martin-built F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft for its Air2030 air defence programme.

In November 2020, the Federal Office for Defence Procurement (armasuisse) received the second proposal for the new fighter aircraft from four potential manufacturers.

The manufacturers and their aircraft candidates are Airbus Eurofighter, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed-Martin F-35A.

During a comprehensive technical evaluation, the F-35A offered the highest overall benefit in terms of effectiveness, product support, and cooperation at the lowest cost.

In addition, the council also based its decision on the manufacturer’s and the production country’s existing technological dependencies.

It was found that the F-35A system’s cyber management, computer architecture and protection measures offer a high level of cybersecurity.

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By GlobalData

The council also decided that a fleet of 36 aircraft would be enough to meet the airspace protection needs of the country.

A budget cap of $6.49bn (Sfr6bn) has been set for the procurement of new fighter aircraft.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Program vice-president and general manager Bridget Lauderdale said: “We are honoured to be selected by Switzerland and look forward to partnering with the Swiss government, public, air force and industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft.

“With the selection, Switzerland will become the 15th nation to join the F-35 programme of record, joining several European nations in further strengthening global airpower and security.”

The new aircraft will replace the Swiss Air Force’s ageing Northrop F-5E/F jets and Boeing F/A-18 Hornet that will reach the end of their service life in 2030.

In addition, the council has decided to procure five Patriot fire units from Raytheon for the longer-range ground-based air defence (GBADS) requirement of Air2030.

The other contender for this requirement was SAMP/T by Eurosam.

The council will now seek approval from the Parliament for the procurement of the two systems.

In a statement, the council said that the ‘two systems are the most suitable for protecting the Swiss population from air threats in the future’.