• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Referendum campaign opposes new combat jets

Malcolm Curtis · 8 Oct 2013, 22:55

Published: 08 Oct 2013 22:55 GMT+02:00

The groups, who filed their bid in Bern on Tuesday, have four months to gather the 50,000 signatures necessary to put the issue on the ballot next year, which they are expected to be able to do with ease.

The decision by the federal cabinet to acquire the Saab JAS-39 combat planes remains deeply unpopular with the public, although the upper and lower houses of parliament backed the move in separate votes last month.

A survey published by weekly newspaper SonntagsBlick in early September showed 63 percent of respondents were opposed to the purchase of the aircraft.

The government wants to use the jets to replace its aging fleet of Northrop F-5 Tiger II pursuit planes.

The Swiss air force also has 33 McDonald Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in its fleet.

The focus of the opposition to the Gripen planes is the cost, which is earmarked to be paid over 10 years from the budget of the Swiss armed forces.

According to armament specialists “a combat plane will come back in the end to cost three times its purchase price,” Adèle Thorens, co-chairman of the Green party, is quoted as saying by the ATS news agency.

“We are therefore talking here of an expenditure of nine billion francs,” she said.

“We oppose this extravagant expense.”

Socialist MP Evi Alleman from the canton of Bern said there was no need to waste billions of francs of tax money to “satisfy the dreams of a few fans of air defence”, ATS reported.

Given that Switzerland is surrounded by friendly countries, the risk of air combat is minuscule and the air forces F/A 18 Hornets are readily sufficient to patrol Swiss air space, Alleman indicated.

The Group for Switzerland without an Army is backing the referendum drive.

Story continues below…

Right-wing politicians who were initially divided over whether the Gripen was the right combat plane to buy have subsequently closed ranks.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer, who is also Swiss president this year, has already stated that he plans to boil the issue over the Gripen planes down to a question of whether citizens are for or against the army.

Supporters of the aircraft will point to the involvement of the Group for Switzerland without an Army as proof that a vote against Gripen is a vote against the Swiss military.

Last month, the group failed in its referendum bid to end military conscription when 73 percent of voters rejected the idea.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Six authors who found inspiration in Switzerland
Chillon as it was in Byron's time. Photo: www.mymontreux.ch

It's 200 years since English poet Lord Byron visited Lake Geneva, putting it firmly on the literary map. But he's not the only one to have found inspiration in the country's hills and glaciers...

Brexit vote will hit Swiss economy: president
Schneider-Ammann has warned the Swiss economy could suffer. Photo: AFP

President Johann Schneider-Ammann has warned that Brexit will have a negative impact on the Swiss economy.

River swimmers advised of cold water risks
Cooling off should be done with care. Photo: bad-info.ch

As Switzerland basks in the sun swimmers are being warned that many rivers have yet to heat up.

SNB moves to stabilize franc after Brexit vote
The SNB is worried about the franc's strength. Photo: AFP

Central bank intervenes in the foreign exchange market to stabilize the franc following Brexit.

‘Leap into the unknown’: Swiss press on Brexit
The EU flag won't be hanging from British buildings in future. Photo: AFP

Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union is a recipe for uncertainty and turbulence, Swiss papers say.

Football: Swiss prep for Poland clash
The Swiss in training ahead of Saturday's game. Photo: AFP

The Swiss 'Nati' are gearing about to face Poland in the last 16 at Euro 2016 on Saturday.

 Self-driving shuttles premiere in Sion
Two shuttles are operating in Sion's old town. Photo: PostBus

In a first for Switzerland, driverless post buses are now carrying passengers in Sion.

Geneva to get 'café fellatio' by end of year
File photo: Jen/Flickr

A firm in Geneva plans to open a café where customers can enjoy oral sex while they sip their morning coffee. Not everyone is happy with the idea.

Asylum seeker fined 900 Swiss francs for kiss on cheek
The main train station in Aarau where the incident occurred. Photo: Kecko/Flickr

An asylum seeker who earlier this year sexually harassed two young women and kissed one of them on the cheek was fined 900 Swiss Francs (€830) it has emerged.

Swiss technology
Swiss solar plane completes historic Atlantic crossing
Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard of the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft, celebrates at Sevilla airport on Thursday. Photo: AFP

UPDATED: The feat is a world-first for solar-powered flight.

Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
A guaranteed basic income: why did the Swiss say no?
Photo: Andreas Gerth/Swiss-Image.ch
Features
Switzerland’s breathtaking Unesco World Heritage sites
Photo: Nestle
Culture
Nestlé celebrates 150 years with museum openings
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
National
Report: Swiss are officially ‘good’ for the planet
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
World agog at bizarre Gotthard Base Tunnel opening
Photo: Coop
Swiss supermarkets look to scrap free plastic bags
Photo: IMD
Business & Money
Report: Swiss economy more competitive than US
Photo: Aargau police
National
Murderer escapes from Swiss psych hospital
Photo: Grande-Dixence SA/essencedesign.com
Features
8 fantastic reasons to visit French-speaking Switzerland
Photo: Terroir Fribourg
Lifestyle
Swiss village to make world’s biggest meringue
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Features
10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard
National
Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Sport
Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
Photo: Broad Bean Media
National
Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Business & Money
Pink diamond sold for record-breaking $31m in Geneva
File photo: Candida Performa
Lifestyle
Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
Photo: Cervo
Travel
In pictures: Switzerland’s most welcoming hotels
4,633
jobs available