Swiss Air Force
Swiss Air Force badge
|Lineup||July 31, 1914|
|Armed forces||Swiss Army|
|Armed forces||air force|
Staff Air Force
Education and Training Brigade Aviation Institute
Military Airfield Alpnach
Military Airfield Dübendorf
Military Airfield Emmen
Military Airfield Locarno
Military Airfield Meiringen
Military Airfield Payerne
External Site Sion Air Defense Training
|Strength||19900 = mil / civil pers: 1280, militia: 18620|
|Air Force Commander||
|Deputy Commander Air Force||
The Swiss Air Force ( French Forces aériennes suisses , Italian Forze aeree svizzere , Rhaeto-Romanic ) is the air force of the Swiss Army . Until the end of 1995 the designation was FF Trp (Flieger Flab Troops) or Flugwaffe (flying part).
The beginnings of Swiss military aviation go back to the year 1892, when two representatives of the General Staff Bureau ascended with the famous balloonist Spelterini to examine the military use of tethered balloons for observation. In 1897 the Federal Council applied to Parliament for the necessary funds and in 1900 volunteers joined the first airship recruit school in Bern. In 1912, the Swiss Officers' Society called for a national donation for military aviation. The result of 1.7 million francs exceeded expectations.
With the outbreak of the First World War , the negative attitude of the authorities changed, which had been justified with the question of whether aviation was suitable for the militia. On July 31, 1914, the cavalry instructor and pilot Theodor Real was entrusted with the formation of an air force. He confiscated three aircraft exhibited at the national exhibition in Bern . The first ten trained Swiss pilots, including eight French-speaking countries, moved into Bern-Beundenfeld, some with their own planes and mechanics, where a balloon hall had already existed near the barracks , and formed the newly created air force. The aviation pioneer Oskar Bider was appointed chief pilot.
In order to procure the additional flying machines required during the war, the Federal Council of K + W in Thun gave the order in May 1915 to build six aircraft based on the designs of the Swiss August Haefeli . In December 1914 the improvised Beundenfeld airfield was relocated to Dübendorf ; the first outpost was Claro in Ticino . The pilots rarely took action during the war and therefore concentrated on expansion and training. At the end of the war, the force with its 62 pilots had 68 aircraft. However, the commandant Theodor Real had resigned as early as 1916 due to the lack of financial resources, after the end of the war the further development of the air force was only possible to a very limited extent due to the savings efforts of the federal government. It was not until 1930 that the air force's sole observation task was supplemented by combat tasks and Dewoitine D-27 fighter aircraft were acquired for this purpose. The German armament did not go unnoticed in Switzerland either and resulted in the procurement of C-35 double-deckers and the acquisition of licenses to build the Morane .
Due to political developments in Europe, the air force was declared a branch of arms in October 1936. The Department of Aviation and Anti-Aircraft Defense, headed by a general, was created. The establishment of an effective anti-aircraft defense system had already begun in 1935. Within a very short time, the number of aircraft crews was doubled. The first series of the Me-109 fighters ordered in Germany arrived just in time for the start of the Second World War .
Gottlieb Duttweiler ( LdU ) submitted a postulate in October 1937 in which the government was asked to buy aircraft through a delegation in the USA with the aim of increasing the air force to 1,000 aircraft. The Federal Council rejected the application because it would rather promote its own aircraft industry. Duttweiler then propagated under the slogan << 1000 aircraft >> in Die Tat an expansion of the air force to 1000 aircraft and the training of 3000 pilots at a cost of 300 million francs calculated by him, arguing that a strong air force is currently a small country would make few soldiers strong in national defense. To this end, he planned a popular initiative for a one percent military levy to finance 1,000 aircraft as well as to promote flying and the Swiss aircraft industry. For the same purpose he founded the In Memoriam Bider / Mittelholzer / Zimmermann cooperative . After Duttweiler was repeatedly defeated in parliament with a motion to achieve this goal, the LdU began collecting signatures for a popular initiative in February 1939 with the support of the Social Democrats . The collection, which was scheduled for just one and a half months, clearly missed the intended goal of several hundred thousand signatures with 92 199. Thereupon Duttweiler decided after another six months and after the beginning of the Second World War not to submit the initiative. Although the initiative had no tangible result, it made it easier for the Federal Council to levy a death toll and the population's willingness to fight was strengthened.
In World War II
The Swiss air and anti-aircraft troops mobilized on August 28, 1939, three days before the outbreak of war. They had 86 fighters and 121 observation and ground attack aircraft. Of the 21 flying units, only three were considered fit for military service; five did not own any planes. The gap was gradually closed by purchasing additional Messerschmitt Bf 109s and French Morane-D-3800s (both types Jäger) manufactured under license . In 1943 the Federal Aircraft Factory in Emmen started operations. In a very short time the air force withdrew to the Swiss Reduit . Protected aircraft caverns were created , for example in Alpnach, Meiringen and Turtmann. In 1942/1943 the plane firing range Ebenfluh / Axalp was put into operation. The surveillance squadron founded in 1941 was able to intervene actively from 1943 onwards. In 1944 a trial night squadron was formed, which was disbanded in 1950.
The air force was on active duty together with the air defense, which was being established , partly as a whole, partly in replacements. In the first months of the war, the air and anti-aircraft troops were only used sporadically. Only when the German offensive against the west and thus the second general mobilization of the army was triggered on May 10, 1940 , the border violations by German aircraft increased.
The Swiss crews resolutely fulfilled their defensive task , especially at the beginning of June . The Air Force fired in air combat eleven aircraft of the German Luftwaffe from (six days of fighting). However, she also had to mourn three fatalities herself during this time (two Swiss planes shot down). As a result, the Reich government protested on June 6, 1940 against the Swiss attacks on German aircraft, which, according to their account, were mostly in French airspace or had only erroneously violated Swiss air sovereignty. Germany demanded compensation and an apology from the Federal Council. In order to give Switzerland a lesson, saboteurs were sent to Switzerland to carry out explosive attacks on the airfields Spreitenbach , Bözingen , Payerne and Lausanne on June 16, 1940 between 10 p.m. and midnight . All saboteurs could be arrested by June 16, thanks to the vigilance of civil and military authorities.
In a second - even stricter - note dated June 19, 1940, the German government described the shooting as a flagrant hostile act and threatened Switzerland with sanctions and retaliatory measures if it were repeated (Switzerland received less of the important coal from Germany). On June 20 (and until the end of October 1943) General Guisan therefore banned aerial battles over Swiss territory for political reasons. On July 1, 1940, the Swiss Federal Council apologized to the German government for any border violations by Swiss pilots, without admitting any such violations. On July 16, the German government announced that the aviation incidents had been resolved.
In September 1944, a Swiss aircraft was shot down, this time by a US crew.
During the Second World War , 6501 border violations were counted, 198 foreign aircraft landed on Swiss territory and 56 crashed.
The P-51 Mustang , which was bought cheaply from second-hand stock of the US Air Force after the war, was in service with the Swiss Air Force from 1948 to 1958 with 130 copies (+1 interned machine?) After the Second World War.
Jet flying with the Swiss Air Force
As early as 1946, the Swiss Air Force tested four Vampire Mark I jet aircraft . Due to the positive results, a first series of 75 vampires of the improved version "Mark 6" was procured. The British vampire still had a wooden trunk. On March 20, 1950, the retraining of the first squadron began, which was commanded by militia officer Arthur Bill . A pilot needed an average of 27 flight hours to safely control the single-seat jet aircraft. This refuted concerns that the vampire was not suitable for the militia. Ejection seats were installed from 1960 onwards, until this point in time the aircraft could only be flown by unmarried pilots. After the acquisition of another series of 100 aircraft, the “Vämpi” was used as a training aircraft until 1990.
In the 1950s, the Cold War between the West and the Eastern Bloc reached a climax. Switzerland was also heavily arming itself: for example, never before and never after this period had so many new combat aircraft been bought. The supplier was exclusively Great Britain: first the named Vampires, then almost without interruption 250 De Havilland DH.112 Venoms and from 1958 - regardless of the cancellation of the additionally ongoing project FFA P-16 and the previously canceled project N-20 Aiguillon - finally over 100 Hawker Hunter , one of the most advanced fighter aircraft at the time, which for many years still demonstrated its maneuverability with the Patrouille Suisse . Even before the Hunter was procured, Switzerland was the first country in the world whose combat squadrons were exclusively equipped with jet aircraft.
A delegation tested the G-91 in Italy in 1959 and the Saab Draken in Sweden; In the case of the Draken, the pilot's vision in particular had to be clarified and modified. In the 1960s, with considerable political background noise ( Mirage affair ), an interceptor with the Mirage was procured with the ability to double supersonic speed (see historical aircraft )
Ground organization in the Swiss Air Force
On February 1, 1968, as part of a reorganization, Flugplatzbrigade 32 was founded, which comprised around 16,000 members of the army at all military airfields in Switzerland. It was divided into a brigade staff, three airfield regiments and a light airfield division. It comprised three airfield regiments, regiment aerodrome 1 Valais, airfield regiment 2 Bernese Oberland and western Switzerland, airfield regiment 3 central Switzerland and Ticino, as well as a light airfield division operating across Switzerland. In combination with the BAMF, Federal Office for Military Airfields, this organization with its ZV central administration in Dübendorf represented an extremely robust and powerful structure that could be continuously activated within 48 hours with one mobilization. On March 15, 1986, 80,419 members of the army were in control of the air and anti-aircraft troops.
Aircraft procurement in the 1970s and 1980s
In 1971 it was decided to procure 30 factory-revised hunters. A purchase of 60 Corsair A-7Gs ready for signature in 1972 led to such differences of opinion that in the end neither the A-7 nor the Milan S constructed from the Mirage were procured. Instead, a tranche was obtained from a further 30 hunters as used vehicles. In 1972/73 there was also an offer to buy A-4B Skyhawk aircraft, initially used aircraft, then new ones.
On August 27, 1975, Parliament approved the procurement of 66 F-5E Tigers and six F-5F Tigers. The Northrop F-5 prevailed in the evaluation against the F-4 Phantom II , Dassault Mirage F1 and Saab 37 Viggen , after the Hawker Siddeley Harrier , Fiat G.91 Y and Douglas A-4 N Skyhawk had previously been out of the evaluation were eliminated. With the 1981 armaments program, another 32 F-5E and six F-5F were procured. All F-5s were manufactured in the USA and the final assembly was carried out at the Federal Aircraft Plant Emmen (F + W).
After four helicopter types had been checked for their suitability in 1979, a UH-60 Black Hawk arrived in Emmen on February 28, 1980 to be evaluated against the second remaining type, the prototype of the Super Puma . Peter Regli led the evaluation. The race made the Super Puma, in Switzerland after the acquisition in 1986 and the designation T ransport H elikopter also TH86 called. The first three machines arrived on August 14, 1987, and from May 23, 1991 twelve more machines followed as TH89 . The three TH86 were brought up to the slightly modified version of the TH89.
At the meeting of the Armaments Committee on May 10, 1983, the project for a "new fighter aircraft" was initiated on the basis of a submission by the commander of the air and anti-aircraft troops on April 19, 1983. On October 3, 1988, the Federal Council decided to procure 34 F / A-18 combat aircraft.
Motorways as runways in the Cold War
The guardrail has been replaced by two kilometers of steel cables on sections of some Swiss motorways. With the end of the Cold War and the restructuring of the Swiss Army, objects were continuously removed from the inventory of the military infrastructure, including various national highways. With the army reform in 1995, the concept of airfields on national roads was temporarily abandoned. At the moment there is no more maintenance and no further use is being tested. However, the Swiss Air Force still considers the ability to decentralize to be necessary. This still includes operations from civil airfields, former military airfields and sections of motorway.
Bambini Code and Brevity Code
- See: Bambini Code , the former language of the pilots in the Swiss Air Force
- See: Brevity Code , NATO code used by the Swiss Air Force since 1998
History from 1990
F / A-18 initiative 1992/93
When, in the spring of 1992, both chambers of parliament approved the procurement of 34 F / A-18 combat aircraft , the GSoA said it was able to collect almost 500,000 signatures within 32 days for an initiative against this project. On July 9, 1992, the Federal Chancellery stated that the initiative had come about with 181,707 valid signatures. Specifically, the initiative wanted to prevent the purchase of fighter jets by the year 2000. Army circles also fought this second GSoA initiative. It was called the army abolition in installments . The second GSoA initiative was rejected on June 6, 1993, but 42.8% of those who voted were in favor of abandoning the aircraft. The voting book also suggested a replacement of the 130 hunters that hardly existed at the time with “only” 34 F / A-18s. In fact, the 34 Mirage S, which had formed the backbone of air defense throughout the Cold War, were replaced. The F / A-18 were procured explicitly for this and not for the abandoned role of the Hunter.
First certification of female helicopter pilots in 1995
On June 2, 1995, women were officially certified as military pilots for the first time. These were the helicopter pilots Ines Meier, Sibylle Meier, Annette Müller and Katja Stucki had completed the 68-week training, which was followed by 26 weeks of earning . Training for women on combat aircraft was not planned in Switzerland at the time.
Renamed the Air Force in 1996
The pilots' and air defense forces including the flying part of Air Force were the reorganization EMD 95 in by January 1, 1996 Air Force renamed. This designation corresponds to international usage. The first Swiss Air Force lettering was created on the Learjet and King Air liaison aircraft, after which the Super Puma helicopters received eye-catching lettering as part of their missions in Kosovo from 1999 onwards, which were later replaced by smaller, permanent lettering on all helicopters and transport aircraft.
Popular initiative «Against fighter jet noise in tourist areas» 2005/2008
The Helvetia Nostra association launched the federal popular initiative “Against jet noise in tourist areas”, which was submitted on November 3, 2005 , under the leadership of environmentalist Franz Weber . As part of a new stationing concept, Fliegerstaffel 11 , which flies F / A-18 combat aircraft, was relocated from Dübendorf to Meiringen on January 1, 2006, which increased flight activities there. The initiative wanted to protect the recreational areas of tourism from aircraft noise by banning all military training flights with fighter planes in peacetime. The referendum was clearly rejected on February 24, 2008 with 31.9% yes votes and a majority of the cantons (0:20 6/2). In the municipality of Meiringen directly affected by aircraft noise, the initiative was approved by 926 (52%) to 856 votes.
With a request addressed to the DDPS on May 10, 2010 , the Giessbach Foundation demanded the Swiss people and other plaintiffs (hoteliers and individuals) to review the legality of the noise and pollutant emissions in the area of from 2006 to 2009 caused by the flight movements of the fighter jets Meiringen and the surrounding area. On November 23, 2010, the DDPS decreed not to respond to the request, whereupon the plaintiffs referred the case to the Federal Administrative Court on January 6, 2011 . With the judgment of September 7, 2011, the DDPS now obliged to comment on the request, which the Federal Supreme Court confirmed.
Deployment concept from 2006 and 2013
In 2006 and 2013, the Air Force worked out a so-called stationing concept, which had an impact on the number of flight movements, especially for combat aircraft. The total number of remaining flight movements was initially set at 20,950 (take-offs and landings per year) for Payerne, followed by Emmen (17,500). This was followed by Sion (11,180), Locarno (8,500) and Meiringen (7,436). In the decision of November 26, 2013, the Sion airfield was waived and flight operations ceased at the end of 2017.
Popular initiative and referendum against the procurement of new combat aircraft in 2008 and 2014
A popular initiative of the group for a Switzerland without an army for a procurement moratorium until 2019 came about on June 8, 2009. On August 25, 2010, the Federal Council decided to postpone the procurement of a new fighter aircraft until 2015 at the latest for financial reasons. Thereupon the GSoA withdrew its initiative, since the desired period would be reached anyway.
For the replacement of the F-5 Tigers , aircraft were considered again from 2011: Eurofighter Typhoon (Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain), Saab JAS-39 Gripen (Sweden), Dassault Rafale (France), while McDonnell Douglas one Had withdrawn the offer for the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet (USA). Because the partial replacement was financially expensive and politically sensitive, more cost-effective options such as the purchase of used combat aircraft, primarily F / A-18C / D, were also examined. Furthermore, on April 20, 2011, the DDPS decided to consider modernizing the F-5 Tiger.
On May 18, 2014, the Swiss electorate rejected the purchase of a new Saab Gripen fighter jet requested by the Federal Council and Parliament on November 30, 2011 by referendum with 53.4% of the votes . Even the financing of the procurement did not succeed at the first attempt and two groups, those from the left-green alliance "Stop-Gripen", which formed the referendum committee , and one from the bourgeois-liberal camp, fought the procurement. The F-5 Tigers that are actually to be replaced would, according to information, remain in use in 2015 until at least 2017.
First female fighter pilot in 2018
Before 2004, it was not possible for women to become fighter jet pilots in the Swiss Air Force. In 2017 Fanny Chollet (* 1991) completed basic tactical training on a Pilatus PC-21 and began training on the F / A-18 fighter jet in 2018 . Chollet is the tenth Swiss military pilot and the first F / A-18 pilot outside of North America. She is assigned to Fliegerstaffel 18 .
Procurements from the 2000s
Procurement of transport aircraft
After an extensive evaluation of the Alenia C-27J Spartan and the CASA CN-235, the VBS had proposed the procurement of two CN-235s. However, this was rejected in Parliament in 2004. At the beginning of 2015, several motions were submitted by politicians with the demand that the air force should now acquire two transport aircraft.
Replacement for the ADS 95 reconnaissance drone
A flight evaluation was carried out in 2012 to replace the ADS 95 reconnaissance drones . The Super Heron from Israel Aerospace Industries was compared to the Hermes 900 HFE from Elbit Systems in the evaluation. In June 2014, the Elbit Hermes 900 drone system was chosen , an unarmed reconnaissance drone system. With the 2015 armaments program, it was decided to purchase six modified Elbit Hermes 900s. With the first deliveries, these replaced the remaining 15 ADS-95s from 2019.
The project to modernize the ground-based air defense was carried out under the name BODLUV 2020. It was planned to replace the three current systems (Stinger, Rapier and anti-aircraft gun) with two systems with short and medium range that can be integrated into the FLORAKO system and thus network all of the ground and airborne components. In contrast to the systems now in use, it should in principle be possible to fight all missiles from aircraft to guided missiles. MBDA UK with the CAMM-ER , Diehl Defense with IRIS-T SLM and Rafael Defense System with Iron Dome were evaluated . In September 2015 it was announced that Thales Suisse SA, as general contractor on the Swiss side, had played a key role in the BODLUV 2020 MR (medium range) project. After deficiencies became known, the project was suspended by Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin on March 22, 2016 . An overall concept for air defense and the procurement of a new fighter aircraft is now being worked out. In this overall concept, Air2030 will again be advised on BODLUV systems.
The Air2030 modernization project includes three components:
- Procurement of ground-based air defense with medium-range missiles. Restoration of the capability, so to speak, which was abandoned with the decommissioning of the Bristol Bloodhound BL-64.
- Procurement of new combat aircraft to replace the entire fleet of the remaining F-5 Tiger and F / A-18 with less modern combat aircraft.
- Procurement of a new airspace monitoring and control system to replace the existing FLORAKO system.
After the suspension of the BODLUV 2020 project, a new anti-aircraft missile system is to be evaluated as part of the Air2030 project from 2019. The systems David's Sling (Israel & United States), SAMP / T (European consortium) and MIM-104 Patriot (United States) are shortlisted . After no offer for David's sling missile defense system was received from the manufacturer Rafael , the system was eliminated from the selection process. Israeli sources later reported that the United States has pressured Israel to keep David's Sling missile defense system out of Air2030 competition in favor of Raytheon's MIM-104 Patriot system.
The type decision should be made by the end of 2020. The introduction of the new system is planned for 2025. The procurement is bundled with the procurement of a new combat aircraft and is carried out as a planning resolution, on which a referendum is possible.
- Air surveillance
With the Air2030 program , a successor system for the FLORAKO is also being introduced. As the first stage of the FLORAKO replacement, containers for system demonstration and testing by armasuisse were set up in Dübendorf at the beginning of October 2018 by the providers Thales (France), SAAB (Sweden) and Raytheon (USA). On September 19, 2019, the DDPS announced that the Skyview system from Thales would replace FLORAKO.
- New fighter aircraft
In April 2016, Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin initiated the preparatory work for the purchase of a new fighter aircraft . A group of experts supported by an advisory group was commissioned to clarify fundamental questions about needs, procedures and industrial aspects. On May 30, 2017, the “Recommendations of the Advisory Group for the Evaluation and Procurement of a New Fighter Aircraft” were published. The report shows four options: Option 1: Replacement of the current combat aircraft fleet with around 55 (or 70) combat aircraft and a comprehensive renewal and performance increase on the part of ground-based air defense, financial requirements: approx. CHF 15-18 billion; Option 2: Replacement of the current combat aircraft fleet with around 40 modern multi-purpose combat aircraft and renewal of the ground-based air defense, financial requirements: approx. 9 billion francs; Option 3: Replacement of the current combat aircraft fleet with around 30 new combat aircraft and a considerable increase in performance on the part of ground-based air defense, financial requirements: approx. 8–8.5 billion francs; Option 4: Procurement of around 20 new combat aircraft while continuing to operate the F / A-18 fleet and renewing the funds for ground-based air defense, financial requirements: approx. 5 billion francs. Both the maximum and the minimum variant would have little chance of success for political or suitability reasons. The procurement is bundled with the procurement of an air defense system and is carried out as a planning resolution, on which a referendum is possible. The five types of aircraft are being tested, in alphabetical order of the manufacturer's name, Airbus Eurofighter Typhoon , Boeing F / A-18 F, Dassault Rafale B, Lockheed Martin F-35 A and Saab 39 E. On June 13, 2019, armasuisse announced that with test flights are not performed on the Gripen E. The reason given is that the Gripen E is currently not in operational service with any air force. At the time of the planned test flights, there were only three pre-series E version machines in existence. An offer from SAAB to carry out the tests with Gripen C / D or F (NG) was rejected. After the 50,000 signatures required for a referendum were obtained on time, the Swiss people will decide on the procurement of new combat aircraft on September 27, 2020 .
- From Easter 1999, Super Puma transport helicopters were made available to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Albania . This was the Swiss Air Force's first humanitarian mission abroad. Its successor is the Swisscoy mission, which has been extended for three years since 1999, the last time in 2017 to 2020.
- Three Super Puma helicopters were flown to Sumatra in 2005 to fly relief missions for the victims of the tsunami disaster .
- In 2010, three Cougar helicopters flew fire-fighting flights in Israel.
- In August 2017, three Super Puma helicopters were used in forest fires in Portugal.
The Swiss Air Force is led by division general Bernhard Müller . In addition to the Air Force Staff , the Air Force Operations, the Air Force Operations Center and all airfield commands, the Aviation Medical Institute (FAI) , the three teaching associations Flieger 31 , Flab 33 and Command Support 30 are subordinate to the commander. The teaching associations in the Air Force - in contrast to the army - also include the task forces.
In the Swiss Air Force, an aircraft is usually not permanently assigned to a specific squadron. This applies in particular and traditionally to the militia squadrons, whose pilots are only on duty a few weeks a year. Markings applied to an aircraft therefore hardly allowed any conclusions to be drawn about the user. Squadron aircraft with a special livery such as the F / A-18 J-5017 from Fliegerstaffel 17 are also used by other squadrons.
Until the end of the Hunter era, the militia pilots in the Swiss Air Force came from all sorts of civilian professions; at that time there were also full-time farmers among the pilots.
Other relay units
The tasks of the Swiss Air Force are as follows:
- Preservation of air sovereignty by means of an air police service (analogous to the street police) and air defense
- Air transport service
- Obtaining intelligence for military and political authorities and preparing the air situation
The ground fighting was not trained since the departure of Hunter aircraft in the 1994th The preservation of air sovereignty also comes into play as protection of neutrality when aircraft belonging to states that are in an armed conflict want to force the use of Swiss airspace. The Swiss airspace has been electronically monitored by FLORAKO around the clock since 2005, while combat aircraft were normally only available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. In order to improve readiness, in September 2010 parliament transferred a corresponding motion from Hans Hess ( FDP ). The then launched project for a 24-hour standby was stopped by Defense Minister Ueli Maurer in January 2012. After a hijacked civilian plane landed in Geneva outside of “office hours”, the project was resumed. Around 100 additional full-time positions as well as structural work are required at two military airfields ( Emmen Airfield & Meiringen Airfield ) as well as at Geneva Airport and Zurich Airport . The main base for this service, the Payerne military airfield , has already been expanded for it. The first step was taken on January 4, 2016: For 50 weeks, two now armed F / A-18s with the callsigns HammerX1 & HammerX2 (X = placeholder for first digit) stood by on QRA 15 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. From January 2, 2017, this presence was guaranteed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily & public holidays. Since January 1, 2019, the jets have been ready from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and at the end of 2020 they will be expanded to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
According to the Federal Council, the term security today also includes the rescue and repair of damage in the event of natural and civilization disasters in the context of support missions , for example: salvage, fire-fighting work, air transport (missions in avalanche disasters , storm damage , etc.), aerial reconnaissance (searching for people, detection of embers in forest fires with Infrared device) as well as expanding Swiss involvement in crisis regions. Switzerland can contribute to improving its own security situation within the framework of international organizations such as the UN or the OSCE .
Economic aspects make flying over Switzerland attractive for European air traffic. Thanks to such overflights, for example, the UN was able to save over 100 million Swiss francs on air transports as part of the peace mission in the Balkans by the end of 2000. In the event of a conflict, Swiss airspace is interesting because of its central location in Europe, but also because of the radar shadows created by the topographical conditions. Air operations take place practically without warning. They cannot be foreseen in terms of time, place of entry and direction. Therefore, the permanent airspace surveillance , which is carried out continuously all year round with the FLORAKO system and professional personnel, is becoming a basic task of the Swiss Air Force, with which the execution of further tasks of the Air Force becomes possible.
Air Police Service
The air police service is the main task of the Swiss Air Force. It is carried out daily and is considered to be real use, not an exercise (such as the aerial combat exercises that take place at the same time). Unknown aircraft must be identified at short notice and in all weather conditions and, if necessary, intercepted. The air police service ensures control and sovereignty of the Swiss airspace as well as the security of all air traffic. The Air Force thus not only fulfills the tasks of an independent state, but also tasks for the benefit of civil aviation ( FOCA and Skyguide ). For optical identification and monitoring, military aircraft are retrieved from their current mission or combat aircraft from operational readiness (QRA) and brought up to the aircraft to be identified.
The air police service can be divided into two types:
Controls (live missions)
When checking overflights, aircraft are intercepted by the Swiss Air Force and checked visually, it is checked whether the aircraft corresponds to the information given in the flight plan (type, matriculation, operator) and whether any conspicuous features are visible. Alternatively, aircraft are followed and observed whether the pilot adheres to the air traffic rules (rate of descent, speed, type, weather conditions etc.).
Interventions (hot missions)
- Help for civil aircraft, for example with navigation problems and radio breakdowns etc.
- Making visible (escorting) an aircraft with a defective transponder for civil air traffic control
- Direction of emergency signals with forwarding to emergency organizations (e.g. REGA)
- Identification of airspace violations such as unauthorized entry or deviations from the flight plan
- Intervention for traffic safety if VFR aircraft penetrate airways or the approach and departure corridors of the airfields
- Implementation of restrictions on the use of airspace (e.g. WEF in Davos, G8 summit in Évian-les-Bains 2003 )
- Monitoring of the airspace in the event of an aircraft hijacking
- Coping with crisis situations (for example, enemy / terrorist aircraft approaching the national border)
The Swiss Air Force is entitled to inspect any aircraft that is in Swiss and Liechtenstein airspace at any time, regardless of type, nationality etc. Air police interventions may also be cross-border after consultation with the respective air force operations center. The use of weapons is only permitted on national territory, with your own resources and under your own operational management. The use of weapons against aircraft is only permitted if other available means are insufficient. If air traffic is not restricted, no weapons may be used against civil aircraft. In the event of restricted air traffic, weapons may be used against civil aircraft in individual cases. Weapons may be used against state aircraft, in particular military aircraft, which use Swiss airspace without authorization or in disregard of the licensing conditions, if the aircraft do not comply with the orders of the air police. Weapons are reserved in the event of an emergency or self-defense.
The following table shows the annual number of operations within the framework of the air police service:
|year||Live missions||Hot missions||source|
Services to other organizations
The Swiss Air Force also provides services for other organizations: Using one of the FLORAKO secondary radars, it supplies the civilian Skyguide with radar data, thus enabling safe air traffic management. Air force helicopters and drones regularly conduct surveillance flights for the GWK border guard , they are also used for surveillance flights (e.g. Street Parade Zurich) and person search flights for the benefit of the police and REGA. To support the fire brigade in forest fires, drones and FLIR helicopters are used to localize nests of fire, and helicopters with the Bambi Bucket as extinguishing agents. For the Federal Office of Public Health , the National Alarm Center NAZ and the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate ENSI, the Air Force regularly collects air data and measures radioactivity with helicopters and F-5s. The F-5 is used as part of the ARES program to carry out parabolic flights for the benefit of the University of Zurich, the UZH Space Hub and other research institutes. In addition, the air force processes all diplomatic clearance applications that are requested outside the opening times of the Federal Office of Civil Aviation FOCA and provides the Swiss Air Rescue Service REGA with communication systems. In its office in Belp, the Airfield Command 13 in Meiringen looks after the funds of the federal LTDB's air transport service and the FOCA aircraft stationed there.
- The Swiss Air Force has the Patrouille Suisse jet aircraft aerobatic team , which uses six F-5E's in a red and white livery for the demonstrations.
- The propeller plane aerobatics team, the PC-7 Team , uses nine standard PC-7s.
- The F / A-18 Hornet Solo Display shows flight demonstrations with an F / A-18C.
- The Super Puma Display Team demonstrates the flight performance to the audience with a Super Puma or Cougar.
- The parachute scouts of Parachute Reconnaissance Company 17 often appear in front of an audience with a jump from a PC-6T.
In 1942, General Guisan demanded a demanding airmen's firing range, as he was dissatisfied with the Luftwaffe's shooting performance. The Axalp was chosen to practice . After the Second World War, the ground combat with the jet planes Vampire, Venom and Hunter was regularly practiced on the Axalp, whereby in addition to the on-board cannons, training and war bombs and unguided rockets were used. During the Cold War, military liaison officers from western, eastern and non-aligned countries were invited to the demonstrations. Nowadays, the Axalpfliegerschiessen Flugschau Axalp is a performance exhibition of the Swiss Air Force in the mountains for anyone interested. It is the only event in the world where civilians (regardless of their nationality) can watch an actual airshow at 1,700 meters above sea level as the aircraft guns are used free of charge. The use of helicopters in the mountains now takes up a large part of the flight demonstrations with the fire fighting and rescue demonstrations.
In 1994 the Swiss Air Force held an international air show in Switzerland for the first time at the Buochs military airfield, the Air94. In 2004 another air show, the Air04, was held in Payerne.
In 2014 Air14 , the longest airshow in Europe, took place in Payerne : On the occasion of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Swiss Air Force, 50 years of Patrouille Suisse and 25 years of the PC-7 Team, Air14 took place from August 30th to September 7th held for nine days, with the two weekends being the main attractions. The aerobatic teams of the Swiss Air Force performed every day. On these occasions, in addition to the resources of the Swiss Air Force, components from the Swiss Army were presented, vintage cars, current combat aircraft and helicopters from other countries, as well as aerobatic teams from various air forces. For Air24 in 2024, a demonstration is again planned over a weekend.
The Swiss Air Force owns seven airfields with flight operations. The military airfields in Dübendorf and Alpnach should be closed according to the new stationing concept. The decision to close Alpnach was reversed. It is also being checked whether Dübendorf will continue to be used as an airfield for helicopters and propeller-driven aircraft beyond 2014.
Alpnach Military Air Base (LSMA)
Main airfield for all air transport with the air transport squadron 2.
Bern Airport (LSMB)
Bern-Belp is not actually a military airfield. Only the federal air transport service is stationed there.
Buochs Air Base (LSZC)
Buochs is the so-called "Sleeping Base". Military flight operations will no longer take place on this basis. In the event of war, the LSMU / LSZC can be reactivated. The airfield is primarily used by the Pilatus aircraft works.
Dübendorf military airfield (LSMD)
For a long time, Dübendorf was the most important military airfield in Switzerland. After the fighter planes were withdrawn, an air transport squadron as well as some propeller planes and the instrument flight squadron 14 are stationed there.
Emmen Air Base (LSME)
Emmen is a training and alternate airfield for combat aircraft, propeller aircraft and helicopters. In addition to the well-known Patrouille Suisse aerobatic team , which has its home base in Emmen, some professional and militia teams with F / A-18 Hornet and F-5 Tiger also fly there. Air transport squadron 7, drone command 84, the pilot school (main location) and the destination flier squadron are stationed there. The headquarters of RUAG Aviation are in Emmen; the place is also the starting point for any test and evaluation flights. Emmen is the Air Force's simulator center. An AS532 (Super Puma and Cougar), PC-21 , ADS 95 and Eurocopter EC635 simulator are located there.
Locarno is responsible for the basic training of pilots and parachute scouts. There is also a PC-7 simulator. The ADS 95 drone activities in Ticino for border surveillance are directed from the airbase in Locarno . Locarno has three slopes (one hard surface and two grass slopes), only the hard surface slope is normally used for military purposes.
Lodrino Military Air Base (LSML)
The airport in Lodrino is no longer operated directly by the air force, all flight operations in Ticino take place from the base in Locarno. RUAG Aviation runs the Center for Propeller Aircraft and UAV Systems there and maintains the Pilatus PC-6, PC-7 and PC-9 systems of the Swiss Air Force. There are only training flights and the Luftwaffe works flight. However, the airport is normally only approved for military aircraft; civilian air traffic is only permitted in the event of maintenance. The facility of the tower was completely dismantled in 2010.
Meiringen Air Base (LSMM)
Meiringen has been the home base of an air wing since 2006. It is a war airfield with aircraft caverns and, next to Payerne, the second mainstay for air defense and daily flight operations. Meiringen is the only cavern airport in Switzerland that is still in use .
Payerne Air Base (LSMP)
Payerne is a war airfield, on which mainly the F / A-18 operate. There are two air squadrons stationed there with an air wing, an air transport squadron, partly the drone unit, a training unit and partly the pilot school. The Payerne War Airfield is the Air Force's main jet fighter airfield.
Sion Airport (LSMS)
Sion is a civil and military airfield. A flying squadron with F / A-18 and F-5 as well as part of the pilot school are located there. It is also a war airfield. In contrast to Payerne and Meiringen , jet planes only fly irregularly there.
Abandoned military airfields
During the Second World War and the Cold War, the following military airfields were also used, although some initially only had grass runways and no infrastructure of their own:
- Ambrì-Piotta Airport (LSPM)
- Ems GR The remaining light aircraft hangar was demolished in 2014.
- Frutigen military airfield (LSFR)
- Interlaken Airport (LSMI)
- Kägiswil Airport (LSPG)
- Mollis Air Base (LSMF)
- Münster VS Military Airfield (LSPU)
- Raron Airport (LSMN)
- Reichenbach military airfield (LSGR)
- Saanen Airport (LSGK)
- San Vittore Military Air Base (LSXV)
- St. Stephan Airport (LSTS)
- Turtmann Air Base (LSMJ)
- Ulrichen military airfield (LSMC)
- Zweisimmen Airport (LSTZ)
Since 1941 there have been around 400 aircraft accidents in the Swiss Air Force with over 350 fatalities. Up to now, as of September 2016, an F / A-18C , three F / A-18D , ten F-5E Tigers , a BAE Hawk , nine Mirage IIIS , a Mirage IIIBS , two Cougars , and a Pilatus PC-9 have crashed , 28 Hawker Hunter , 29 de Havilland DH.100 Vampires and about 50 de Havilland DH.112 Venom .
The accident with the greatest number of victims so far occurred on August 27, 1938. Five Fokker CV-E aircraft flew in formation from the Dübendorf military airfield via Disentis to Bellinzona. In the Hoch-Ybrig region , the pilots were surprised by fog. Four of the two-seat machines crashed. Seven pilots and mechanics died, one survived seriously injured.
Commanders since 1914
The name of the Swiss Air Force has changed several times over the years: 1914 to 1924 Air Force, 1925 to 1936 Air Force, 1936 to 1995 Air Force and Air Defense Force, since 1996 Air Force. Until 1935 the rank was only commander, from 1936 to 1967 commander or weapon chief, from 1968 only commander again.
- July 31, 1914 to October 1916: Hauptmann i Gst Theodor Real
- October 1916 to March 1917: Hauptmann i Gst Marc Schleppy
- April 2, 1917 to November 1918: Major i Gst Walter Scherrer
- November 19 to December 15, 1918: Captain i Gst Ludwig Daniel Holzach
- December 16, 1918 to March 31, 1920: Major i Gst Arnold Isler
- April 1, 1920 to December 31, 1929: Lieutenant Colonel i Gst Albert Müller
- January 1, 1930 to March 31, 1936: Colonel Philippe Bardet
- October 14, 1936 to December 31, 1943: Colonel Divisionary Hans Bandi
- January 1, 1944 to December 31, 1952: Oberstdivisionär Fritz Rihner
- January 1, 1953 to October 11, 1964: Colonel Divisionaire Etienne Primault
- January 1, 1965 to June 30, 1973: Colonel Corps Commander Dr. Eugen Studer
- July 1, 1973 to December 31, 1980: Corps Commander Kurt Bolliger
- January 1, 1981 to December 31, 1983: Corps Commander Arthur Moll
- January 1, 1984 to December 31, 1986: Corps Commander Ernst Wyler
- January 1, 1987 to December 31, 1989: Corps Commander Walter Dürig
- January 1, 1990 to March 6, 1992: Corps Commander Werner Jung
- March 16, 1992 to December 31, 1999: Corps Commander Fernand Carrel
- January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2005: Corps Commander Hans-Rudolf Fehrlin (spelling also Hansruedi Fehrlin)
- January 1, 2006 to June 20, 2008: Corps Commander Walter Knutti
- June 21, 2008 to December 31, 2012: Corps Commander Markus Gygax (until February 28, 2009: ad interim)
- January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2017: Corps Commander Aldo C. Schellenberg
- Since January 1, 2018: General Manager Bernhard Müller
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- Fighter Squadron 17 ( Memento from November 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
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- Fliegerstaffel 19 - Escadrille d'aviation 19 - Squadriglia d'aviazione 19 ( Memento from April 28, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
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- Police du ciel, première intervention le week-end!
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