Switzerland on Monday signed a controversial contract to buy 36 US F-35 stealth fighter jets at a cost of more than six billion francs ($6.2 billion).
‘National Armaments Director Martin Sonderegger and the Swiss F-35A Program Manager Darko Savic signed the procurement contract on 19 September 2022 at armasuisse in Bern,’ said armasuisse, the country’s arms procurement agency.
‘With this, the procurement of 36 F-35A is contractually agreed,’ it added.
The selection of the F-35 by the Swiss government in June 2021 sparked some controversy, particularly in light of the cost-overruns of the fighter programme in the United States.
however, a Swiss parliamentary investigation did not call into question the selection of the fighter.
The Swiss government and parliament also short-circuited holding a referendum on the plane’s purchase despite enough signatures being collected to put the issue to voters, saying there was not enough time to do so before manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s offer expires.
But Swiss voters had already narrowly approved in September 2020 spending six billion Swiss francs to replace the country’s fleet of ageing F/A-18 Hornets and F-5 Tigers.
The F-35s will be delivered between 2027 and 2030.
Switzerland joins a growing number of European countries which have opted for the stealth multi-role combat aircraft, including Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Poland.
In another report, as the monkeypox disease slowly gains worldwide recognition, Swiss health officials yesterday reported the country’s first case of monkeypox in a person living in the canton of Berne but who was exposed while abroad.
Berne’s health authority said the patient had been treated as a walk-in case and was now isolating at home. Everyone who had come into contact with him had been informed, it added in a statement.
‘As far as we know, the person concerned was exposed to the virus abroad,’ the statement added.
Health officials became aware of the case on Friday, and it was confirmed as monkeypox the following day.