Switzerland Plans to Send Its Old Fighter Jets Back to the U.S.

Albertina Torsoli

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is expected to buy 22 aging fighter jets from Switzerland, a country that’s struggling to modernize its own air force.

U.S. Navy representatives and the Swiss defense procurement agency, known as Armasuisse, discussed the deal in July, an agency spokesman said by email on Sunday. The contract is expected to be signed once U.S. lawmakers approve the fiscal 2020 defense budget, he said.

President Donald Trump is seeking $718 billion in Pentagon funding for 2020, including $39.7 million for the F-5s, an aircraft first delivered to Switzerland in 1978. Nowadays, the U.S. uses the F-5 to simulate enemy planes in aerial combat training.

Switzerland has been trying to buy new warplanes for years. Voters in 2014 rejected a 3.1 billion-franc ($3.2 billion) order for Saab AB Gripen fighter jets. Switzerland now plans to spend about 6 billion francs on new fighter jets, according to SonntagsZeitung newspaper and previous Swiss media reports.

“If the Americans want to take over the scrap iron, they should do it,” Beat Flach, a Green Liberal lawmaker, told SonntagsZeitung, which reported on the planned sale on Sunday. “It’s better than having the Tigers rot in a parking lot.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Albertina Torsoli in Geneva at atorsoli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Mellor at bmellor@bloomberg.net, Tony Czuczka, James Amott

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