Swiss could borrow Swedish fighter jets

Sweden could loan a fleet of Gripen fighter jets to Switzerland as it awaits delivery of the craft's next generation model, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said on Friday.

Swiss could borrow Swedish fighter jets
Norman Pealing/Gripen International (File)

Bern announced in November its intention to buy 22 Saab Gripen E/F fighter jets to replace its ageing US F-5 fighter fleet in an estimated 3.1 billion francs ($3.3 billion) deal.

The E/F is still under development and Sweden could loan Switzerland about 10 of the current C/D model in the meantime.

Maurer made the announcement on Friday after a two-day meeting with his Swedish counterpart Karin Enström, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

The loan would allow pilots to get trained up and avoid the costly upkeep of the F-5.

The Gripen, not available before 2020, was selected over the French Dassault Rafale and the EADS Eurofighter, sparking much debate in the Swiss parliament which has yet to give the purchase the green light.

A referendum will also likely be held on the deal.

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Switzerland orders temperature checks for travellers from Sweden

Switzerland opened its borders Monday to travellers from European Union countries but said temperature checks would be required for those flying in from Sweden, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Switzerland orders temperature checks for travellers from Sweden
Illustration photo: AFP

Like a raft of other European countries, non-EU member Switzerland reopened its borders on Monday after months of coronavirus curbs, to travellers from all 27 countries in the bloc, along with Britain, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

But its health ministry said that people entering the landlocked country from nations with high numbers of new infections could be subjected to temperature checks.

“This is currently the case with regard to Sweden,” it said.

“From June 15, passengers arriving on direct flights from Sweden will therefore have their temperature checked at the airport,” it said, adding that “persons with signs of a high temperature will be given a medical examination and, if necessary, be tested for COVID-19.”

Sweden controversially took a far softer approach to reining in the outbreak than most countries.

It kept cafes, bars, restaurants and most businesses open, as well as elementary and middle-schools, in recent months as COVID-19 spread, stressing that citizens could be relied on to practice the recommended physical 
distancing without legally-binding measures.

While Sweden's Nordic neighbours have reported deaths linked to the pandemic in the hundreds and have seen new cases slow to a trickle, Sweden has reported nearly 5,000 deaths and more than 50,000 cases.

The country of 10.3 million people continues to report around 1,000 new cases each day.

Meanwhile Switzerland, population 8.5 million, has registered over 31,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — with just 14 new cases reported on Monday — and 1,675 deaths.