Switzerland to expand Boeing F/A-18 Hornet upgrade

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Switzerland's fleet of 33 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters is to undergo a new modernisation programme worth up to $535 million, as work reaches an advanced stage on the nation's current Upgrade 21 project to the type.

The Swiss air force's 26 single-seat F/A-18Cs and seven D-model trainers will receive targeting, communications and survivability equipment enhancements under the proposed deal, announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency last month. Key equipment to be provided will include 20 Raytheon ASQ-228 ATFLIR electro-optical/infrared targeting pods and 44 Raytheon ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receiver suites, plus cockpit display enhancements and a voice/data/video recording facility.

"The Swiss air force needs this upgrade to keep pace with high-tech advances in sensors, weaponry and communications," says the DSCA.

 
© Andy Sheppard

Pictured above arriving at Edinburgh airport in Scotland on 13 December en route to Emmen air base, Swiss F/A-18C J-5001 has meanwhile completed a nine-month test campaign in the USA, during which it fired a total of 14 Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder (pictured below) and AIM-120B AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, culminating with engagements using US Air Force McDonnell Douglas QF-4 Phantom target drones.

 
© Armasuisse

The aircraft has played a key role in supporting Switzerland's Upgrade 21 effort, which will also provide the nation's Hornets with the Vision Systems International Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System and Link 16 datalinks.