Switzerland will domestically assemble four Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth fighters as part of the country’s planned acquisition of the advanced combat jet.

The Swiss Federal Office for Defense Procurement Armasuisse on 25 June said the domestic production agreement is included in a knowledge and technology transfer deal with F-35 prime contractor Lockheed, which primarily assembles F-35s in Fort Worth, Texas.

Switzerland, which has long maintained geopolitical neutrality and is not part of the NATO mutual defence alliance, in 2022 ordered 36 of the fifth-generation fighter jet from the US manufacturer, with delivery dates scheduled for between 2027 and 2030.

The aircraft are set to replace the Swiss air force’s current fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornets and Northrop F-5 Tigers.


Source: Lockheed Martin

Switzerland will assemble four of its 36 F-35A stealth fighters as part of a knowledge- and technology-transfer deal with Lockheed Martin

“In return, Lockheed Martin has committed to compensating 60% of the contract value, which corresponds to around $3 billion, through offset transactions with companies in Switzerland,” Armasuisse says. “Of this, 20% must be related to the F-35A fighter jets being procured.”

Armasuisse says it pre-approved the agreement on 5 June. 

The assembly and testing will take place at Swiss armaments company Ruag. The firm says the work will require 100 employees, and it will recruit 40 of them in the French-speaking western Switzerland. One-fifth of the offset transactions related to the F-35, or $100 million, will also be invested in the region.

Ruag will receive “know-how, data packages, training and technical support” related to the partial assembly from Lockheed, the company says. 

“For Ruag, this project is incredibly important as it represents the only way that the company can acquire a sufficient depth of know-how regarding the F-35 at an early stage, and thus develop the required skills,” the company says. “Ruag will use this challenge as an opportunity to become part of the European F-35 support solution, as a regional provider.

“With the development of additional expertise, Ruag can also secure existing jobs and promote the development of future high-tech positions,” it adds.

After assembly completion, the aircraft will be flown to Leonardo’s production facility in Cameri, Italy, for final acceptance, Armasuisse adds. 

Japan also completes final assembly and acceptance domestically, with a facility in Nagoya operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries capable of producing six F-35As per year.

The country’s short take-off and vertical landing F-35Bs are assembled in Fort Worth. The three sites in Italy, Japan and the USA are the only F-35 final assembly and check out facilities in the world, according to Lockheed.

Local production agreements are common within the F-35 programme, as non-US customers seek to gain economic benefits and technical knowledge for domestic industry. 

Earlier this month, Finland said it will build new production lines near the city of Nokia to cover assembly and maintenance of F135 engines, under licence from Pratt & Whitney, to support Finland’s F-35 programme, which covers 64 examples of the conventional take-off and landing A-model variant.