In late March, Defense Minister Guy Parmelen announced plans to implement an ambitious program called Air2030 (“Air-2030”). As follows from such a designation, the program provides for an increase in the "air" potential of the army and should be implemented by the end of the next decade. Already formed the basic requirements for such a program and its results. Over the next few years, the Department of Defense plans to determine how to build a new air defense system and select its main elements. In the future, administrative issues should be resolved, after which purchases of the new material part will begin.
It should be noted right away that the Air2030 program appeared for the simplest and most obvious reason: the current state of the Swiss air defense does not suit the military, and in the future the situation will not improve on its own. In its current form, this system, related to the Air Force, does not meet current requirements, and therefore it should be rebuilt. The architecture of such structures should undergo certain changes, but the main method of modernization will be the purchase of new samples aviation equipment and ground-based anti-aircraft systems.
According to the recent directory The Military Balance 2018, the Swiss air defense is not particularly powerful or numerous. The tasks of protecting the country from air attack are assigned to six fighter squadrons. There are also several land batteries, assembled in a separate structure as part of the Air Force. Combat aviation and ground elements of Swiss air defense have common problems. Their weapons and equipment are few, and also differ in relatively large age and limited combat qualities.
The Military Balance indicates that in the Air Force ranks 25 fighter-bomber type F / A-18C and 6 machines F / A-18D. Also in the parts there were about four dozen F-5E light fighters, but about half of these aircraft have so far been withdrawn to the reserve.
The situation in the ground defense is no better. Air Force units have fifty Oerlikon GDF / Flab Kanone 63 / 90 towed anti-aircraft guns with paired 35-mm machine guns. There is the same number of British-made Rapier mobile anti-aircraft missile systems. Object and military air defense is armed and stored several hundred man-portable air defense systems FIM-92 Stinger, bought in the past from the United States.
The Federal Department of Defense considers such a situation unacceptable. According to military experts, aircraft of the F / A-18 family no longer fully meet the requirements, and in the foreseeable future they will also become obsolete physically. Older F-5Es are already outdated, and therefore only half of these aircraft remain in the ranks, while others now serve as a source of spare parts. Fighters of other types in the troops are missing. As a result, the Swiss Air Force can oppose no more than fifty fighters with limited combat capabilities to the conventional enemy.
The potential of ground defense is insufficient even for a small country. The barrel systems of the Oerlikon brand are capable of attacking enemy aircraft and helicopters only in the near zone. The firing range of Rapier missiles, in turn, does not exceed 10 km with a maximum height of no more than 5 km. Until the beginning of the two thousandths, Switzerland operated the British BL-64 Bloodhound air defense system with a firing range of up to 50 km. However, they were later decommissioned and decommissioned. Echeloned anti-aircraft defense with several zones of responsibility actually ceased to exist. From her left only near echelon.
Against the background of the state of fighter aircraft and ground defense, the situation with the means of detection looks quite acceptable. In 2004, the FLORAKO radar was used as a further development of the previous FLORIDA complex. The structure of a large complex consists of four separate radar stations that monitor their directions. If necessary, ground objects are supplemented by airborne early warning aircraft. Working together, the various detection systems of the FLORAKO system are able to monitor the air situation within a radius of 470 km, finding targets and giving out information about them to various consumers.
The condition of the FLORAKO complex suits the military for the time being, and in the foreseeable future it will be able to do without major modernization. If it will be updated or replaced, it is only after the completion of the planned program Air2030.
The Department of Defense understands the problems of the existing air defense system and even tried to take action. For example, several years ago it tried to acquire the Saab JAS 22 Gripen 39 Swedish fighter. Negotiations with the supplier ended successfully, but the contract was not approved by the public. In May 2014, a referendum was held, one of the topics of which was the purchase of aircraft. More than half of the votes were cast against such a contract.
However, the need to upgrade fighter aircraft and ground defense did not disappear. To date, the Air2030 program has been compiled, while it is a plan for the implementation of certain actions over the next few years. It is curious that so far only deadlines are fixed. The cost of the program is currently determined only approximately. The volume of purchases of new materiel, which in the future will be chosen on a competitive basis, is also only of an advisory nature.
In accordance with the Air-2030 plan, the air force will need to get about 40 modern fighter aircraft that meet the requirements of the present time and the near future. These aircraft will be the first echelon of air defense and will have to intercept air targets outside the areas of ground complexes. The military want the fighter aircraft to organize a long shift shift, with at least four planes in the air at the same time.
The program provides for the deployment of new ground-based anti-aircraft complexes with enhanced characteristics that have significant advantages over those in service. The range of new air defense systems should exceed 50 km. The height of the lesion - 12 km. With the help of land complexes, the army plans to protect more than 15 thousand square meters. km of the country - about a third of the total area. Ground defense will cover a number of important areas, and the protection of other areas will be assigned to fighters. The exact number of purchased complexes will be determined on the basis of their technical characteristics and financial capabilities of the customer.
The air defense development program has already been worked out, but has not yet been adopted for implementation. However, according to official data, the first steps in this direction will be made in the very near future. Already this summer, the Department of Defense will launch several tenders, after which all companies wishing to receive a profitable Swiss order will be able to submit their bids. The next few years, the military will spend on studying the proposals and finding the most profitable.
According to published plans, the search for new weapons and equipment will take several years, and in the early twenties the military department will make its decision. Around the same time, the fate of the program will be entrusted to citizens. At the next referendum they will have to decide whether the country needs new aircraft and air defense systems. It is noted that citizens will be asked only about the need to purchase a new material part, while the choice of specific samples will remain with the specialists of the Federal Department of Defense.
If the public approves the continuation of the work, then tentatively for 2025, the year will be the contracts for the supply of serial samples of the equipment of the desired type. The army does not plan to purchase a large number of products, and therefore all deliveries are expected to be completed by 2030 year. At the same time, the decommissioning of aircraft and anti-aircraft systems that have exhausted their resources will be carried out.
By the standards of small Switzerland, the proposed program is quite large and ambitious. In addition, it will have a corresponding value. According to current military estimates, a total of 8 billion francs (a little less than 8,35 billion US dollars) will have to be spent on the purchase of airplanes and anti-aircraft complexes. For comparison, the country's defense budget for the current year is equal to just 4,8 billion francs. In 2019, the country will spend 200 millions more on defense. Obviously, the procurement costs will be distributed over several years, but in this case, the program may look too expensive.
As it became known a few days after the announcement of the details of the Air2030 project, the Department of Defense has already found an opportunity to pay for some purchases. The acquisition of ground-based anti-aircraft weapons allowed 1,3-1,5 billion francs to be spent. However, this amount is also supposed to be divided among several annual budgets.
The Swiss Army has already warned potential suppliers of additional conditions for future contracts. In order to get the highest financial return, the customer plans to insist on a so-called. counter investments. After paying a certain amount to a foreign country, the Swiss authorities want to receive comparable money back, already as an investment in their economy.
The competitive stage of the Air-2030 program starts only in a few months, but a possible circle of its participants is already determined. The Swiss military department indicated which models of weapons and military equipment were considered when forming plans and requirements. As it turned out, significant manufacturers of aviation equipment and rocket armament can apply for contracts. It is noteworthy that among potential bidders there are no companies from Switzerland.
As it turned out, the Department of Defense is still showing interest in the Swedish fighter JAS 39 Gripen, rejected by voters several years ago. In addition, he watched the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F / A-18E / F Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II cars. In fact, specialists responsible for the formation of a new program have studied almost the entire range of proposals on the international market of multi-purpose fighters. At the same time, for some unnamed reasons, Switzerland did not consider Russian-made equipment.
The situation is similar in the area of procurement of anti-aircraft complexes. The American system Raytheon Patriot in the last modification and the European Eurosam SAMP / T were studied. In addition, Switzerland has shown interest in the Kela David complex from the Israeli company Raphael. This model of military equipment is said to be capable of not only attacking airplanes and helicopters, but also fighting ballistic targets. The TLVS project, created as part of the American-European cooperation between Lockheed Martin and MBDA, was also considered, but this system was almost immediately rejected due to insufficient firing range.
In theory, the contract of the Swiss army can get any of the companies offering on the international market multi-role fighters or anti-aircraft missile systems. However, in practice, everything will be a little different. Some of the possible proposals have already been rejected by the potential customer. In addition, not all manufacturers may be interested in new competitions and submit their applications.
Finally, public opinion will play an important role in the future of the Air2030 program. A significant part of the issues affecting the security of the country is submitted for a nationwide discussion. The voices of citizens and the results of the planned referendum are a key factor influencing the real future of the most important program.
Plans and reality
The Federal Department of Defense, Civil Defense and Sport of Switzerland sees the existing situation in the field of air defense and does not intend to leave everything as it is. Over the past few years, attempts have been made to improve the situation by updating certain types of troops. A few years ago there was an unsuccessful attempt to purchase new aircraft to replace obsolete ones. Now we are talking about an entire program providing for a parallel update of aviation and ground-based anti-aircraft systems.
The proposed program Air2030 has several prominent features. Thus, it provides for the replacement of obsolete materiel in the "one to one" ratio. At the same time, it is suggested that the simultaneous purchase of several dozens of aircraft and a comparable number of ground-based air defense systems should be proposed. Means of detection and control of air defense will remain the same. Perhaps they are being upgraded only after the 2030 year.
The proposed plans look very complicated, but quite realistic. By concentrating its efforts, Switzerland will be able to upgrade its air defense system and restore the required combat capabilities. Naturally, the purchase of 40 aircraft and a certain number of air defense missile systems will be expected to cost the army a considerable amount, but such spending will quickly justify itself. At the moment, the fighter aircraft and the air defense of the country cannot be called truly modern and developed. Because of this, the supply of any significant number of new samples can lead to a marked increase in defense capability.
However, the risks for the Air2030 program may lie not only in finance and technology. The fate of the ambitious project will be decided publicly, with the help of a traditional Swiss referendum. Whether the Department of Defense will succeed in convincing the voter of the need for planned procurement is too early to say. The need to spend 8 billion francs (more than one and a half annual military budgets) can frighten the voter and make him vote against the program. At the same time, the money will come back with the investments, and the country will receive modern protection from a possible attack - such theses can turn the citizen into a supporter of the proposed plan.
However, it should be noted that the issues of agitation and propaganda, necessary for obtaining the approval of the population, will be solved only in the distant future. Now the Federal Department needs to complete preparations for future tenders and launch them. Then, for several years, the military will have to study real samples of weapons and equipment, as well as determine their prospects in the context of developing their own air defense systems. And only after that the question of procurement will be submitted to a referendum. It is quite possible that by this time the Air2030 program will be adjusted and revised, as a result of which it will become more profitable for the army and more attractive for voters.
Despite its fundamental neutrality, Switzerland needs a sufficiently developed armed forces. The state of air defense of the state, which is under the authority of the air force, has long been considered unsatisfactory. To solve this problem a complex plan has been developed, the implementation of which will take a lot of time. If the Department of Defense can fulfill the new plans, the country will restore the defense and will be able to respond to a possible air attack.
The Military Balance 2018