A Swiss selection of the Eurofighter next year would enable the nation to locally assemble at least three-quarters of a 40-strong fleet, according to Airbus Defence & Space.
The German government on 18 November submitted its response to a final request for proposals from Bern for a new fighter capability, with Airbus leading the Eurofighter consortium’s offer.
Switzerland would directly benefit from Germany’s recent Project Quadriga order for 38 Tranche 4 Eurofighters, says Wolfgang Gammel, Airbus Defence & Space’s head of combat aircraft sales. The configuration proposed for the Swiss air force is identical to Berlin’s new standard, including an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar being developed by Hensoldt.
“We are in a position to offer to Switzerland a full final assembly line. This is very important from our point of view, in order to fulfill the autonomy aspects which are part of the requirement, and provides from the very first day knowledge of the aircraft and systems,” Gammel said on 9 December.
Gammel says the number of aircraft which could be assembled in Switzerland by Swiss workers is “above 30”, since “Germany is in a position to divert some aircraft from Quadriga” to meet Bern’s schedule for deliveries in the 2025-2030 period.
Another “unique” aspect of the Eurofighter proposal is that Switzerland will be free to pick from partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK when determining its requirements for aspects such as training and support, he says.
Switzerland is due to announce its future fighter selection in the second quarter of 2021, with the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Lockheed Martin F-35A also in contention.
Gammel says Airbus is also hoping for a decision next year from Spain, which has a Halcon requirement to replace some of its aged F-18 fighters based in the Canary Islands. Madrid has been assessing options including a purchase of 20 new Eurofighters for the need.
“We would be really happy to get this deal done next year,” he says, adding: “it would help us to stabilise the workload situation at our military aircraft centre in Getafe” near Madrid. The aircraft would be AESA-equipped Tranche 4 examples.
Meanwhile, Gammel says “very complex” discussions surrounding a long-term evolution plan for the Eurofighter are continuing with Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Initial contracts for some programme elements are likely to be signed in late 2021 or early 2022, followed by larger commitments in 2023, he says.
“The nations have different interests,” he says. For example, Germany could opt to buy new Tranche 5 jets from 2027-2028 to replace its Panavia Tornados, while the UK is likely to require more retrofit work on its in-service Typhoon fleet.