Switzerland is again in the market for fighter aircraft after having announced a postponement of a decision, last year, to purchase the replacements for their F-5 Tiger aircraft.
Significantly, not only is the Swiss Air Force looking for additional capabilities in the aircraft, like an AESA radar, it is also planning to increase the order size from 22 to 36. This would result in an increase in the value of the order from the USD 3-5 billion estimated last year.
Switzerland was considering the Swedish SAAB’s Gripen, EADS’ Eurofighter and the French Dassault’s Rafale to replace their F-5 aircraft, before it put the tender process on hold last year, ostensibly for budgetary reasons.
But the Swiss are now looking at other options as well and have invited Boeing to offer the F/A-18 Super Hornet. This could partly be a result of a feeling that they might be able to achieve cost savings, keeping in mind the existing infrastructure for the upgraded F-18 Hornets, which they already operate.
Swiss officials traveled to St. Louis in recent weeks, where they were briefed on the aircraft.
This comes after a change in the political dispensation in the country, from an earlier regime that was more keen on considering an exclusively European solution for their fighter aircraft requirement.
And for that matter, Kuwait, too, is kicking the tires on the Super Hornet. Commemorating the 20th anniversary of its liberation from Iraq this year, Kuwait already operates the Enhanced Performance Engine (EPE)-powered F-18 C/D. According to Abu Dhabi-based newspaper, The National, a proposed purchase of the Rafale was questioned by Kuwaiti Members of Parliament last year, who said they considered the aircraft overpriced and technically deficient.