“Mr. Biden recalled the excellent quality of the two US planes” — the F35 made by Lockheed Martin and the F/A 18 made by Boeing, Swiss President Guy Parmelin told reporters after meeting with the US leader in Geneva. Biden is due to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the city on Wednesday.
The two US fighters are competing against the Rafale, made by French company Dassault, and the Eurofighter by Airbus, to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 Tigers and F/A-18 Hornets — both US-made.
“I reminded him that we have a process under way, which was decided on long ago, and that the government will reach its decision based on the process currently under way,” Parmelin said.
According to Swiss media, a decision is expected on June 23 on who gets the contract, worth 6.0 billion Swiss francs ($6.7 billion, 5.5 billion euros).
Switzerland’s long-standing position is one of armed neutrality and the landlocked European country has mandatory conscription for men.
How does Switzerland feel about US fighter jets?
In 2020, Switzerland held a referendum on purchasing fighter jets.
Swiss voters narrowly approved the proposal to spend CHF6 billion on new fighter jets.
The vote was far closer than expected, with under 9,000 votes nationwide deciding the question.
This should put an end to a more than decade-long debate about replacing Switzerland’s ageing fleet of jets, although another vote could be held once the government determines which planes it is looking to buy.
However, voters said they were reluctant to buy from the US – at least under former President Donald Trump.