French Rafale grab another deal, the next customer is Switzerland

America’s advanced fifth-generation fighter F-35 is being evaluated as weaker than its rivals, in the race for a contract to supply fighters to the Swiss Air Force.

The French Rafale fighter jet has unexpectedly emerged as the leading candidate in the $7 billion Air 2030 bid to supply the Swiss Air Force with new fighter jets.

The tender was kick off in 2020 and all fighters considered were from Western countries, including the French Rafale, the F-35 Lightning II, the US F-18E Super Hornet and the EU Eurofighter Typhoon.

The selected aircraft will replace the Swiss Air Force’s fleet of F-5E Tiger II and obsolete F-18C Hornet fighters. The F-35 and F-18E are expected to be the top contenders, in part due to Switzerland’s history of often favoring American fighters.

The F-18E Super Hornet benefits from being compatible with much of the same maintenance infrastructure as the F-18C aircraft already deployed by the Swiss Air Force, with the transition from the Hornet family to the Super Hornet as well. will be very convenient.

The F-35 is also considered a top candidate as it is the only fifth generation fighter produced in Western countries and is equipped with avionics with superior stealth capabilities. outperform competitors.

Despite the modern capabilities of the American fighter, it is increasingly reported that the Swiss Federal Council will announce the French Rafale as the winner of the tender at the end of June.

The F-35 and the underrated F-18E have both faced significant resistance from Swiss officials, as the US has imposed strict terms on how the aircraft can be operated. used after the sale, while the French side was not.

Buying the F-35 will tie Switzerland closely to the US defense sector, the F-35 jets will be networked with management facilities in the US, will have to provide regular operational information. aircraft and send data back to the US for tracking.

Rafale’s compatibility with the SkyView aerial surveillance system that Switzerland recently acquired from France is another reason for the country to choose Rafael. However, the Rafale is the only fighter jet that is not compatible with American missiles such as the AIM-9 or AIM-120, meaning that Switzerland will need to eliminate its entire current arsenal if it chooses to fly French Rafale.

While the F-35 is generally a much more modern aircraft than the Rafale by most parameters, the French jet has a number of advantages including much lower operating costs, maintenance requirements,  lower maintenance and superior long-range air-to-air missiles with the Meteor.

However, with the F-35 having begun production recently, which is expected to continue to be upgraded over the next several decades, the F-35 jet is likely to last. significantly longer before needing to be replaced.

Although the F-35 is more advanced, it still has a lot of problems and is still a long way from being ready for combat, currently the Pentagon has not approved the F-35 for large-scale production.

Although the US F-35 has officially entered service since 2014, this type of aircraft is still very limited. The Rafale would therefore be a cheaper and more reliable option for the Swiss Air Force. 

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