May 21, 2014
Swiss voters reject Gripen purchase
In a major blow to Saab, the country voted 53.4% against the proposed purchase of the Gripen E to replace the F-5 Tiger II fighter aircraft.
The Gripen E had been selected by Switzerland in November 2011 to replace the F-5s.
The 54 Tiger II fleet has been in Swiss service since 1978 and is scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2016. Meanwhile, the other element of the Swiss Air Force's combat fleet, its 32 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets, is itself currently scheduled to be withdrawn from service in 2025. With the purchase of the Gripen now rejected, Switzerland urgently needs a solution to maintain the country's air policing capabilities.
A short-term solution could involve upgrading and refurbishing the country's existing Tiger II fleet, which could be maintained in service until at least 2020.
Other options include relaunching the original Tiger replacement programme, in which the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale had also competed. Alternatively, with the purchase of Gripens now ruled out, Switzerland could lease a fleet of the aircraft, as the Czech Republic and Hungary do.