Swiss Air Force
|Swiss Air Force|
Swiss Air Force logo
|Founded||31 July 1914|
|Size||1,600 active professional personnel|
|Part of||Swiss Armed Forces|
|Staff to the Chief
of the Armed Forces
|Bundeshaus Ost, Bern|
|Head of the Air Force||Lieutenant General Aldo C. Schellenberg|
|Swiss Air Force Badge|
|Attack||F/A-18 Hornet, F-5 Tiger|
|Helicopter||Eurocopter Cougar/Super Puma|
|Interceptor||F/A-18 Hornet, F-5 Tiger|
The Swiss Air Force (German: Schweizer Luftwaffe; French: Forces aériennes suisses; Italian: Forze aeree svizzere; Romansh: Aviatica militara svizra) is the air component of the Swiss Armed Forces, established on 31 July 1914 as part of the army and in October 1936 an independent service.
In peacetime, Dübendorf is the operational air force headquarters. The Swiss Air Force operates from several fixed bases (see current status) but its personnel are also trained to carry out air operations from temporary highway airstrips. In case of crisis or war, several stretches of road are specially prepared for this option.
- 1 History
- 2 Mission
- 3 Current status
- 4 Planned acquisitions and projects
- 5 Operational structure
- 6 Inventory
- 7 Air demonstration teams
- 8 Aircraft serial numbering
- 9 Axalp
- 10 100th Anniversary
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes and references
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
The Early Years
The first military aviation in Switzerland took the form of balloon transport, pioneered by Swiss balloonist Eduard Spelterini, but by 1914 there was still little official support for an air corps. The outbreak of World War I changed opinions drastically and cavalry officer Theodor Real was charged with forming a flying corps. He commandeered three civilian aircraft at Bern's airfield and set about training the initial nine pilots at a makeshift airfield close to Wankdorf Stadium, later moving to a permanent home at Dübendorf. Switzerland remained neutral and isolated during the conflict, and the air corps confined its activities to training and exercises, reconnaissance and patrol. It was only with the worsening international situation in the 1930s that an effective air force was established at great cost, with up-to-date Messerschmitt Bf 109, Macchi MC.202 and Morane-Saulnier D‐3800 fighters ordered from Germany, Italy and France respectively (the Moranes were license-built in Switzerland). The Swiss Air Force as an autonomous military service was created in October 1936.
World War II
Although Switzerland remained neutral throughout World War II, it had to deal with numerous violations of its airspace by combatants from both sides – initially by German aircraft, especially during their invasion of France in 1940. Zealous Swiss pilots attacked and shot down eleven German aircraft, losing two of their own, before a threatening memorandum from the German leadership forced General Guisan to forbid air combat above Swiss territory.
Later in the war, the Allied bomber offensive sometimes took US or British bombers into Swiss airspace, either damaged craft seeking safe haven or even on occasions bombing Swiss cities by accident. Swiss aircraft would attempt to intercept individual aircraft and force them to land, interning the crews. Only one further Swiss pilot was killed during the war, shot down by a US fighter in September 1944. From September red and white neutrality bands were added to the wings of aircraft to stop accidental attacks on Swiss aircraft by Allied aircraft.
Official Swiss records identify 6,501 airspace violations during the course of the war, with 198 foreign aircraft landing on Swiss territory and 56 aircraft crashing there.
The Cold War
After World War II the service was renamed the Swiss Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Command (Schweizerische Flugwaffe Kommando der Flieger und Fliegerabwehrtruppen) and in 1966 became a separate service independent from the Army, under its present name Schweizer Luftwaffe.
With the apparently imminent prospect of a new world war, this one involving nuclear weapons, Swiss military spending increased and jet aircraft were purchased: 75 De Havilland Vampires in 1950, quickly followed by over 100 De Havilland Venoms and the same number of Hawker Hunters. The Venoms served until 1983, while Vampires and Hunters continued in active service until 1990 and 1994 respectively. Switzerland was among those European countries that purchased the North American P-51 Mustang from US surplus stocks post World War 2. This aircraft initially was only intended as a stop-gap solution for the Swiss Air Force in order to maintain a capable defence force during a time when obsolete Bf-109E's and Swiss built D-3801 Morane fighters were due to be withdrawn from use, but the license production of the British designed Dh-100 Vampire and Dh-112 Venom jets was not in full swing yet.
At the end of the 1950s, reflecting both the threat of possible invasion by the Soviet Union and the realities of nuclear warfare, Swiss military doctrine changed to mobile defense that included missions for the air force outside of its territory, in order to defeat standoff attacks and nuclear threats, including the possibility of defensive employment of air-delivered nuclear weapons. However the inability to field an air force of sufficient capability to carry out such missions led to a return of traditional "protection of own territory" doctrine. Meanwhile, the Air Force also began to prepare ad-hoc airbases in the mountains, with sections of highway strengthened to act as runways and hangars carved out of the mountains.
In 1954 the first Air Radar Recruit School was activated, the first early warning radar systems were installed and the concept of command & control facilities at mountain summits was introduced; leading to acquisition of the FLORIDA early warning and command guidance system in 1965 followed by the current FLORAKO system in 2003. At the same time, ground-based air defence projects were initiated such as radar-equipped medium-caliber guns with an integrated 63 Superfledermaus (Superbat) fire control system' as well as the BL-64 ‘Bloodhound’ air defense missile system (1964–1999).
After the prototypes EFW N-20 and FFA P-16, Switzerland did not invest in development of its own combat aircraft. In 1964 the procurement of the Dassault Mirage III fighters (1964–2002) caused a scandal due to severe budget overruns. The air force commander, the chief of the general staff and the minister of defense were forced to resign, followed by a complete restructuring of the air force and air defense units as of February 1, 1968 and leading to separation of users and procurement officials.
In 1969, Air Force logistics and air defense were reassigned into brigades. The Armed Forces Meteo Group and Avalanche Rescue Service came under air force and air defense command and the Para Reconnaissance Company was established.
The 1970s were the years of historic major maneuvers with over 22,000 participants. Also a new air defense concept was introduced in which the air superiority fighter as opposed to a pure interceptor was central. In 1974 the first 2 Northrop F-5 Tiger fighters were tested and in 1978 the first F-5 Tiger fighter/interceptor squadron became operational. The F-5 is currently still operational but is scheduled to be replaced in 2018.
After the Cold war
In the late 1980s the changing political and military world situations implied the need of a multirole aircraft in the Swiss Air Force. After evaluation, the performance of the F/A-18 Hornet was the decisive factor in its selection. Designed for carrier-borne operations, it was felt to be well suited to operations on short runways with steep takeoffs. Its radar allows the F/A-18 to detect and simultaneously engage multiple targets with long-range guided missiles.
Between 1996 and 1999, 34 licence-built Hornets left the assembly lines at Emmen. With a length of 17 metres, the F/A-18 is longer than the Mirage III. Its wingspan of 12 metres exceeds the F-5 Tiger’s by 4 metres. Therefore, the existing caverns in the mountains had to be extended, a continuing process as of 2011. The Swiss F/A-18 weighs 17 tons, approximately 2.5× as much as the Tiger. It can easily load 7 tons, about 6x the useful load of the retired Hawker Hunter. The engines provide for a thrust of 16 tons, approximately 3.5× as much performance as the F-5 engines.
In 1995 the Swiss implemented a defensive plan that made control of Swiss airspace its highest and main priority. Modernization of the air force to achieve this mission was subject to popular referenda challenging its cost and practice.
The mission of the Swiss Air Force is as follows:
- General control and protection of Swiss airspace.
- Guaranteeing air sovereignty by means of air policing tasking.
- Guaranteeing air defence throughout the country.
- Capability of executing airlift ops.
- Gathering and disseminating intelligence for political/military leadership.
Through the years, the Swiss Air Force traditionally had been a militia-based service, including its pilots, with an inventory of approximately 450 aircraft whose operational service life overlapped several eras. Beginning with its separation from the army in 1966 however, the air force has been down-sizing (currently approximately 230 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft) and moving toward a small professional cadre with fewer reserves and low-graduated conscripted personnel for general tasks. Currently the Swiss Air Force has a peacetime strength of 1600 professional military personnel with the ability to recall to about 20,000 reservists.
Its front-line air defence asset consists of 32 F-18 Hornets and 53 F-5 Tiger IIs (originally 110 purchased in 1978–85). The F/A-18 pilots are all full-time professional military; the F-5 pilots are largely reservists. These reservists are mostly airliner or freightliner pilots who also have an F-5 rating. During reserve duty periods, they are assigned to military duties and must refresh their operational live flying training. In 2008, the Swiss Hornet component reached the 50,000 flight hour milestone. All Swiss Hornets remain highly capable due to the Upgrade 21 (UG21) programme conducted between 2004 and 2009 at RUAG, while another Mid-Life Update (MLU) will begin shortly.
From 2011, the Air Force intended to start the Partial F-5 Tiger Replacement programme for 22 new aircraft. Candidate types were the JAS 39 Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale. On 30 November 2011, the Swiss government announced its decision to buy 22 Gripen NG fighters. The contract for the 22 aircraft was signed at 3.1 billion Swiss francs. On 25 August 2012, the order was confirmed by both the Swedish and Swiss authorities. The first aircraft were expected to be delivered in 2018, and the intention was to lease eleven current generation (8 JAS 39Cs/3 JAS 39Ds) Gripen fighters from 2016 to 2020 in order to train Swiss fighter pilots while avoiding expensive upkeep of the current F-5s. However, in a national referendum on 18 May 2014, 53.4% of Swiss voters voted against the purchase of JAS 39 Gripen. There are still plans by the Swiss Air Force and in the Swiss parliament to operate eighteen F-5E and four F-5F until 2018. This would also include the continued operation of the Patrouille Suisse on F-5E until 2018.
A report in the Swiss news-magazine FACTS has revealed that in peacetime the Swiss Air Force provides ready-to-take-off aircraft only during office hours on working days. Air Force staff regarded a peacetime 24/7 operational-flying status as "mission impossible" due to budget limitations and limited professional (flying) personnel capacity. This did not apply to the air-defence radar coverage, which guarantees 24/7 peacetime operational capacity. One major problem in defending Swiss airspace is the small size of the country; the maximum extension of Switzerland is 348 km, a distance that commercial aircraft can fly in little over 20 minutes and military jets even more quickly. Noise-abatement issues have traditionally caused problems for the Air Force because of the tourist industry. Due to these reasons, the Swiss Air Force participates increasingly in NATO air-defense training exercises with their Belgian, French or German counterparts. In recent years,[which?] this has included operations for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, the Euro 2008 football championships and the annual World Economic Forum.
Planned acquisitions and projects
- ADS15: As part of the Armament Program 2015, six Elbit Hermes 900 will replace by 2019 the remaining 15 RUAG Ranger ADS-95 that are still in service.
- Pilatus PC-24: On the rollout of the Pilatus PC-24, the Minister of Defence announced that the PC-24 will replace the Swiss Air Force's Cessna Citation Excel.
- Transport Aircraft: The Air Force had suggested the purchase of two CN-235 after extensive evaluation of the Alenia C-27J Spartan and the CASA CN-235. This was rejected by the Swiss Parliament in 2004. In 2015, several motions were filed by politicians of the Swiss Parliament now requesting the Air Force to acquire two transport aircraft by 2018.
- BODLUV2020: The three anti-aircraft systems (Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon, FIM-92 Stinger and Rapier missile) should be replaced by 2020 by two systems which will have their command & control connected to the FLORAKO System.
- 24h/365 QRA15: The Swiss Air Force will build up in 3 steps until 2020 a 24h 365 day QRA15 (15 Minutes from the alarm to the fighters are airborne) with fully armed F/A-18 fighter jets.
- Bern Airport International Airpt.LSZB / LSMB
- LTDB (VIP flights)
- Dübendorf Air Base LSMD (army airfield), a former fighter/interceptor base and current homebase of
- Flugplatzkommando 2 Alpnach Air Base LSMA (airbase 2), a helicopter airlift/logistic base and maintenance unit.
- Militärflugplatz Buochs AirportLSZC (army airfield), a deactivated former air defense base. Currently marked as "sleeping airbase" open for civil and sport aviation. In time of crisis the military airfield installations may be made operational at very short notice as there still are aircraft shelter facilities inside the nearby mountain ridge.
- Flugplatzkommando 4 Locarno Air Base LSMO (airbase 4), a flight training base (PC-6/7/9's); Para Recon Training base, Light Airlift base
- Flugplatz Ambri Airport, LSPM a former air defense base hosting Hawker Hunters. Currently deactivated and open for commercial flights. The aircraft storage facilities inside the mountain ridge are empty but still available.
- Flugplatz Interlaken Airport LSMI, a former fighter/interceptor base hosting 12 F-5 Tigers. Currently deactivated and closed for all air traffic; converted into a leisure area.
- Flugplatzkommando 7 Emmen Air Base LSME (airbase 7), a fighter/interceptor base hosting
- Flugplatz Lodrino Air Base LSML, a former air defense base hosting Hawker Hunters. Currently deactivated and open for commercial flights, only used by PC-6 for Par Recon Training, alternate Airport for PC-7 and Helicopters if landing in Locarno is not possible.
- Flugplatz MollisLSMF, a former air defense base hosting Hawker Hunters. Currently deactivated and open for commercial flights. Aircraft storage facilities inside the mountain ridge are empty but still available.
- Flugplatzkommando 1 Payerne Air Base LSMP (airbase 1), an air defense base hosting
- Flugplatzkommando 13 Meiringen air base LSMM (airbase 13), an air defense base hosting
- Fliegerstaffel (Fighter/Interceptorsqn) 8, with F-5 Tiger
- Fightersqn 11 with F/A-18C/D
- Flugplatzkommando 14 Sion Airport LSGS / LSMS (airbase 14), a fighter/interceptor base hosting
- Fighter/Interceptorsqn 19 with F-5E Tiger
- Fighter/Trainersqn 16 with F-5F Sharing them with FlSt 24
About the squadrons see: Swiss Air Force aircraft squadrons
During the past 35 years, Swiss military and civil airspace control depended on the FLORIDA (FLugsicherungs Operations Radar IDentifikation Alarm – Flight Ops, Radar Identifying, and Alerting) air defense system.
Since its phasing out, however, the Swiss airspace control and defence is being carried out by the THALES Raytheon FLORAKO. This system is being operated from 4 fixed locations at the summits of the Pilatus, Scopi, Weisshorn and Weissfluh mountains in the Alps.
At least one of these Command, Control, and Communications (C3) facilities is always connected to the Air Defense & Direction Center (ADDC or air ops center) at Dübendorf and fully operational on-line on a 24/7 basis, controlling Swiss airspace. Depending on the international situation, more facilities will be manned; in case of crisis or war (ADDC and 4 facilities operational) the coverage will be extended far beyond the Swiss boundaries. Each of these facilities is capable of making all battle management decisions if ADDC or the other facilities were eliminated.
The first FLORAKO unit was activated in 2003 and the operational lifetime of this hi-tech system is guaranteed by its manufacturers for at least 25 years. The system consists of:
- A communication system KOMSYS. Integrating element of all geographically divided parts of the FLORAKO system uniting speech, data communications, and system commands in a single data network.
- A radar station FLORES. Consisting of standard high-power search radars, advanced radars (search mode, high-update ratio, and special functions), and civil authority monopulse secondary radars. The 4 radar stations are the main data sources and are complemented by existing military and civil radar data.
- A radar layer-system RALUS. Translating the data automatically into flight paths and producing a complete civil-military air picture for all authorities.
- A warning message system LUNAS-EZ. AirOps Centers are the combining factors between the FLORAKO-system with real-time data (air picture, planning, and environmental data) and its military users. Workstations are identically configured and built accordingly to latest ergonomics, visual colour high resolution, menu guidance, and known user environment. The Dübendorf Air Defense & Direction Center – as well as the air operations units in the Alps – are equally equipped, thus assuring full-time operational redundancy in
- producing the actual airpicture
- permanent defence of Swiss airspace
- early warning
- command and control
- air policing
- coordination of civil and military air traffic
- The Military-Civil Airspace Management System MICAMS. This secondary system provides a computing backup for flexible airspace use for both civil and military flight security.
The radar system may eventually be completed by 2 mobile TAFLIR (TAktische FLIeger Radars – Tactical Flight Radars). These Ground Master 200 type AN/MPQ-64 radars are a variant of the Northrop Grumman AN/TPS-75 and are deployable in areas of difficult terrain or where specific coverage is needed. Peacetime TAFLIR deployment locations are at Dübendorf and Emmen. In time of crisis or at war they can be deployed anywhere.
Military air surveillance
In Switzerland (including the airspace of Liechtenstein) military air surveillance is also called Permanent Air Surveillance (PlÜ). This ensures uninterrupted 24/365 coverage with the FLORAKO system, wherein the IDO (Identifications Officer) and the TM (Track Monitor) monitor and represented the air situation as Recognized Air Picture.
The Swiss Air Force has several operational centers. In peacetime, the primary military command center is located at Dübendorf airfield, in the same building the civilian air traffic control Skyguide uses. The locations of the other operational centers are secret. The command centers are part of the unit "Einsatz Luftwaffe," the chief of which is directly subordinate to the commander of the Air Force. It consists of the operations center of the Air Force, redundant direct connections to the emergency organizations (air rescue and federal police), as well as to the two Skyguide air traffic centers (Geneva and Zurich), and to the relevant military and civilian air traffic control centers of neighboring countries.
Currently the sky is continuously monitored, but intervention resources are usually available only on weekdays during the day. Usually, increased availability of resources is limited to major exercises, international conferences (WEF), or crises (e.g. the Libyan Civil War in 2011). This heightened state is called PlÜ + (PlÜ PLUS) or ILANA. The Swiss Federal Assembly has adopted a requirement that armed interceptors are to be ready 24 hours a day, but the Federal Council has not released the necessary funding. Meeting the parliamentary requirement would require increased operations at two air bases as well as modifications to civilian sites in Geneva and Zürich. This objective not is expected be met until 2017.
Ground Based Air Defense
The Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) is currently headquartered at Emmen Airbase. Since the deactivation of the former BL-64 "Bloodhound" missile system it achieves its task by operating a triple combined mobile coverage system consisting of:
- Rapier the mobile 10 km range surface-to-air missile system with its components
- launcher/surveillance radar/IFF combination
- tracker radar
- display unit
- 2 generators
- 2x 4 missiles
- FIM-92 Stinger MANPAD 4.8 km range surface-to-air missile systems (fire & forget system)
- Stinger Alert short range radar
- Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannons 4 km range firing unit with its component
- Skyguard firecontrol system 75/95 (15 km detection range)
Despite the persistent lack of continuous availability of armed fighter jets for the entire year, the Swiss Air Force regularly conducts the air policing. Contrary to popular perception, air policing is one of the most complex and challenging tasks of the Air Force. Unknown aircraft have to be identified within a short time and in all weather conditions without error margin and intercepted if necessary. Air policing is performed daily and is always a real commitment and not on the sideline of things happening in parallel (e.g. air combat exercises). Air policing would ensure the control and sovereignty of Swiss airspace and security in air transport. Thus, the Air Force not only carries out the tasks of an independent state (if one includes Liechtenstein: states) but also acts for the benefit of civil aviation (Federal Office of Civil Aviation & Skyguide). In air policing, aircraft will either be intercepted by the Swiss Air Force and visually inspected; it is checked whether the aircraft complies with the timetable specified information (type, registration, operator) and whether abnormal characteristics are apparent. Or aircraft are followed and observed to see if the pilot complies with air traffic rules (sink rate, speed, type, weather conditions, etc. as appropriate).
- Active air policing interventions
- Help for civilian aircraft, for example problems with navigation and radio
- "Visible" (escort) to make an airplane with a faulty transponder visible for civil ATC
- Finding from flares with forwarding to emergency organizations (e.g. REGA)
- Identification of airspace violations as not allowed ingress or schedule disruptions
- Intervention to monitor safety where VFR aircraft enters airways or the arrival & departure corridors of airports
- Enforcing the use of airspace restrictions (e.g. WEF, G8)
- Monitor airspace in hijacking events
- Management of crisis situations (e.g. approximation of enemy/terrorist aircraft at the border)
Services to other organizations
The Swiss Air Force met along with these tasks with their EQUIPMENT and staff a variety services for various other organizations. It provides one of the secondary FLORAKO radar civilian Skyguide with radar data and enables a safe air traffic management. Air Force helicopters and drones regularly conduct surveillance flights for the Border Guard Corps GWK, are also for surveillance flights (e.g. Street Parade) and searching flights for the benefit of the police and the Rega (air rescue). Also in support of the Fire Department for fire fighting where there drones and helicopters with FLIR used to locating nests of fire in forest fires. The helicopter of the Swiss Air Force can be used with the Bambibucket as extinguishing agents at home and abroad, the largest fire fighting operation was with three Super Puma in Israel. Three helicopters are currently stationed for the Swisscoy in support of KFOR in Kosovo. Or are used in large-scale events for relief abroad (e.g. Sumatra after the tsunami). For the Federal Office of Public Health, National Emergency Operations Centre and the Air Force conducts regular ENSI with helicopters and F-5 by air data collection and radioactivity measurements. With F-5 as part of the ARES program parabolic flights in favor of the ETH Zurich and other research institutions are carried out. In addition, the Air Force modified all-diplomatic clearance requests that are filed outside the opening times of the FOCA and represents the REGA (Swiss Air Rescue) communication systems available. The air base command 13 of Meiringen care in his office in addition to the resources of the Belp LTDB the aircraft stationed there by the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA).
|Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon||Switzerland||AAA gun||50||a.k.a. "Flab Kanone 63/90"|
|FIM-92 Stinger||United States||MANPAD infrared guided missile||300|
|Rapier missile||United Kingdom||surface-air guided missile||50||a.k.a. "Mobile Lenkwaffen Flugabwehr"|
Old Radar Systems
|FLORIDA Airspace monitoring and management system||United States||1970||2003|
|SRF Airspace monitoring and management system||France||1955||1970|
|LGR-1 Radar||United States||1948||1955|
|Target allocation radar TPS-1E|| United States
|Fire control radar Mark VII||United Kingdom||1958||1967|
Previous anti-aircraft systems
|Oerlikon 20 mm cannon||Switzerland||1937||1992||(L Flab Kan 37).|
|Oerlikon 20 mm cannon||Switzerland||1954||1995||(L Flab Kan 54 Oe).|
|Bristol Bloodhound||UK||1964||1999||Flab Lwf BL 64 Bloodhound|
Swiss anti-aircraft systems trialled
A number of air defence systems have been offered by Swiss companies and trialled by the Swiss Air Force but in the event not purchased.
|RSE Kriens (Missile)||Switzerland||1958||1966|
|Mowag Shark|| Switzerland United Kingdom
|1981||1983||with French Crotale (missile)
or British twin AAA "wildcat" 2×30mm.
Air demonstration teams
The Swiss Air Force has a jet aerobatic team, the Patrouille Suisse, which uses six Northrop F-5E in a red and white livery; the aircraft have been fitted with smoke generators.
F/A-18 Hornet Solo Display Team
The F/A-18 Hornet Solo Display was founded shortly after the introduction of the F/A-18 Hornet in the Swiss Air Force in 1997. The mission of the F/A-18 solo display it is to show the flight performance and maneuverability of the F/A-18 at home and abroad at various air shows to visitors. From 1997 to 1998 the team was made of two display pilots. Since 1999, the F/A-18 Hornet Solo Display has one display pilot only, which is often accompanied abroad by a former or future F/A-18 Hornet display pilot on the flight demonstrations. This is normally with a second F/A-18C as a reserve on the spot. Unlike the formation flight of view and with the support by the team commander on the ground, as with the Patrouille Suisse or the PC-7 Team, the F/A-18 Solo Display is not flown at sight or radio as Refernz but a program based on numbers, engine performance, angle of attack angle, speednumbers, climb & descents.The display is made with F/A-18C (single seat) without external loads, whenever it is possible from the F/A-18 fleet availability, the squadron maircraft is used by the squadron in which the current F/A-18 Hornet Solo Display pilot is a member. These are J-5011 Squadron 11 Tigers, J-5017 of the Squadron 17 Falcons or the J-5018 Squadron 18 Panthers. Is the Sqadron aircraft not available, the display will be flown with any F/A-18C. An exception was the first official flight demonstration of Stéphane "Punzel» Rapaz who completed it with the F/A-18D J-5233 and the flight demonstration at MAKS Airshow 2013 in Moscow where the flight demonstration with the F/A-18D (double seater) J-5232 was flown with attached wing tanks. Home base is Payerne Air Base.
Super Puma Display Team
The Super Puma Display Team performs at various events at home and abroad, the flight capabilities and flight performance of a AS332M1 Super Puma or Eurocopter AS532 Cougar. The Super Puma Display Team only presented the flight characteristics. The demonstration of external load transport, deposition troops, fire-fighting and rescue operations is not part of the display. The advantage of the Super Puma Display Team over the flying displays by airplane is that even in heavy cloud cover, the show can be presented. Also the team including helicopter can, before and after the show, by on the ground directly on site and visitors can then go to "rub shoulders". For the flight demonstration Axalp the Super Puma Display Team uses a Cougar, this opens up the show with the launch of flares. All pilots of the Super Puma Display Team are professional military pilots, they flywith the Super Puma, Cougar and the Eurocopter EC635 daily. Moreover, they are also often in charge of Search and rescue flights with helicopters equipped with a FLIR of the Swiss Air Force. Home base of the Super Puma Display Team is the Dübendorf Air Base where also training takes place (apart from the local training at showplaces on the day before the show).
Parachute Reconnaissance Company 17
The Parachute Reconnaissance Company 17 is a parachute "Air Show Team".
Aircraft serial numbering
The Swiss Air Force military aircraft are identified by a role prefix and number, the prefix or code identifies the role and the serial numbers the type or variant, the system was introduced in 1936.
- Letter code
The letter or letters give the role of the aircraft.
|A||Ausbildung = Trainer||Pilatus PC-21: A-101|
|B||Bomber||De Havilland D.H.98 Mosquito: B-5|
|C||Communication||Pilatus PC-9: C-403|
|D||Drohne = Drone||ADS-95: D-108|
|J||Jäger = Fighter||F/A-18C: J-5001|
|KAB||Kampfbeobachtung = "Battlefield observation"||Hiller UH-12: KAB-101|
|R||Reconnaissance||Diamond DA42: R-711|
|T||Transport||Dassault Falcon 900: T-785|
|U||Umschulung = "Advanced trainer"||BAe Hawk: U-1251|
|V||Verbindung = Liaison||Pilatus PC-6: V-622|
|Z||Zieldrohne = Target drone||Farner/RUAG KZD-85: Z-30|
This is followed by a number having from two to four digits.
- Four-digit numbers
The first digit identifies the aircraft type. The next three are for the sub-type and the individual aircraft, with the first and sometimes second for the subtype; and the third and sometimes fourth for the individual aircraft, In the following examples, "x" identifies the individual aircraft:
- Mirage IIIBS = J-200x
- Mirage IIIDS = J-201x
- Mirage IIIRS = R-21xx
- Mirage IIIC = J-22xx
- Mirage IIIS = J-23xx
- F-5E = J-30xx (serials previously used for the FFA P-16)
- F-5F = J-32xx
- Three-digit numbers
Most aircraft have three numbers. These follow a broadly similar pattern to the four-digit numbers, although there are exceptions.
Transport aircraft have a first digit of 3 for helicopters and 7 for fixed wing aircraft.
- Two-digit numbers
Target drones have only two numbers.
With the threat of the Second World War and the possible need for the army and civilian population to retreat into the mountains (Reduie) Guisan, it was clear that the Air Force needed the ability to attack enemy ground forces in the mountains. To practice this Axalp was selected. After the Second World War ground attack by Vampire, Venom and Hunter jet aircraft was practiced at Axalp, including cannon and napalm bomb exercises. During the Cold War, military liaison officers from western, eastern and non-aligned nations were invited to the screenings. Nowadays Axalpfliegerschiessen ("Airshow Axalp") is a performance by the Swiss Air Force in the mountains for anyone interested. It is the only event where civilians (regardless of nationality) can see an airshow at 1,700 m (5,600 ft) above sea level and see the live use of aircraft cannons. The use of helicopters in the mountains and at high altitudes, search & rescue and firefighting demonstrations have become a large part of the Axalp air show. Because of the AIR 14 airshow, there will be no Axalp air force live fire event in 2014.
In 2014, the Swiss Air Force celebrated its 100th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Patrouille Suisse and the 25th anniversary of the PC 7Team. The main focus of the celebration was an airshow Air14 at Payerne (30–31 August & 6–7 September).
- Bambini-Code - a tactical radio code used from the 1940s to the 1990s
Notes and references
- Air Forces Monthly, p. 67.
- "The Pioneers". History. Swiss Air Force. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- "The Second World War". History. Swiss Air Force. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- "Swiss Morane". WW2 in color. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "The Present". Swiss Air Force. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- "The Cold War". Swiss Air Force. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- Lombardi, p.45.
- Air Forces Monthly, p. 70.
- Air Forces Monthly, p. 69
- "Swiss Hornets reach 50,000 flight hours milestone". MilAvia Press. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 14 July 2009.
- Air Forces Monthly, p. 68
- Air Forces Monthly, p. 74.
- "Evaluation Partial Tiger Replacement (TTE)". Swiss Air Force. Retrieved 2 September 2009.
- "Schweiz köper 22 Jas Gripen" (Swedish). Sveriges Television, 30 November 2011.
- Hoyle, Craig. "Switzerland picks Gripen for F-5 replacement deal." Flightglobal, 30 November 2011.
- Wall, Robert. "Gripen Beats Rafale, Typhoon for Swiss." Aviation Week, 1 December 2011.
- "Sweden to buy 40-60 next generation Saab Gripen jets." Reuters, 25 August 2012.
- "Die Schweiz entscheidet sich für einen Schweden" (in German). NZZ, 30 November 2011.
- Trimble, Stephen. "Swiss selection makes Saab Gripen an export 'ace'." Flight Global, 30 November 2011.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air force of Switzerland.|
- Swiss Air Force aircraft and equipment of Switzerland (Air recognition)
- All tailcodes of the Swiss Air Force (German only)
- Official website
- Air Defense Direction Center
- TAFLIR information
- All Swiss armed forces facilities at the Zone Interdite website
- Lineup09 – official web site of Swiss Airforce's Pilot Class 2009 (PK 09)
- English language clip about the tasks of the Swiss Air Force.