The contentious purchase of US fighter fighters has been approved by Bern lawmakers without a public vote being held first.
Despite a successful petition drive that was intended to require a public vote on the matter, Swiss legislators have approved the contentious country’s acquisition of F-35 combat fighters from the US.
The $6 billion agreement with US defense contractor Lockheed Martin was approved on Thursday by a vote of Switzerland’s lower house, the National Council. The procurement of 36 F-35s had previously received approval from the higher parliament, the Council of States.
The Swiss government chose the F-35 over the French Rafale, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, and the international Eurofighter Typhoon, and reached a preliminary agreement with Lockheed Martin last year. The Swiss government received voter approval in 2020 to modernize the nation’s fighter jet fleet at a cost of up to $6.3 billion.
The F-35 has been criticized as being too expensive and inappropriate for Switzerland’s defense-focused air force, which is neutral on the military front, despite voters narrowly passing a measure criticized for modernizing or Amid the fleet.
The “Stop F-35” opposition group received the required 100,000 valid petition signatures to demand a vote, the administration acknowledged last month.
The Swiss military ministry stated that the offer from Lockheed Martin had already expired, leaving insufficient time for a vote. The deal must be signed by the government by March 2023, or else there would be additional charges and a longer wait for the planes. Amid the Russia-Ukraine confrontation, other nations like Germany, Finland, and Canada are lining up to purchase F-35s.
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