Airbus and Lockheed-Martin are going on the communication offensive – Dassault and Boeing remain cautious.
So far, the four manufacturers who want to sell aircraft to Switzerland for six billion Swiss francs have been surprisingly cautious. According to information from SRF, the manufacturers had made an agreement with Armasuisse, the Federal Office of Armaments, not to go public until the last offers were submitted. But after the four manufacturers had submitted their offers in person in Bern yesterday, Airbus and Lockheed-Martin held a media conference today.
Final assembly in Switzerland
Four ambassadors acted in the residence of the German ambassador in Bern as a kind of chief salesman for Airbus and its Eurofighter jet. The ambassadors from Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain presented the Eurofighter as the ultimate European joint venture. The German ambassador Michael Flügger offered Switzerland the complete final assembly of the aircraft.
In this way, Airbus can also fulfill the compensation transactions required by Switzerland. So there would be direct industrial returns; the six billion would not simply be spent abroad. “With the final assembly you have the direct creation of jobs,” says Flügger.
The fighter jet manufacturers had to submit an offer for 36 and one for 40 aircraft. According to the Eurofighter team, 40 aircraft would not exceed the cost ceiling of six billion francs. “We are pleased to be able to offer the maximum number of planes within the cost ceiling,” said Franz Posch, head of Airbus Switzerland.
F-35 is also “European”
The US manufacturer Lockheed Martin also offers Switzerland final assembly. At a media conference, the Lockheed executives specified that Switzerland could only assemble four aircraft itself. More does not make economic sense. In the final assembly of these aircraft, the main aim is to enable the Swiss technicians to get to know the aircraft type well for later maintenance work. The US manufacturer tried to portray its F-35 stealth pilot as a non-American model.
A quarter of the parts of the F-35 would be produced in Europe. There should also be interesting counter-deals for Swiss industry. Several hundred cockpit hoods are to be produced in Switzerland.
The other manufacturers are silent
The French manufacturer Dassault deliberately did not hold a media conference for its Rafale fighter jet. A spokeswoman for Dassault said they respect Switzerland’s wish that the evaluation of the fighter planes be an “internal process”.
The US manufacturer Boeing, which submitted an offer for the F / A-18 Super Hornet, is also remarkably cautious in communication. The manufacturer did not provide any information about the price offered, just said that it was a “cost-efficient” aircraft.
Type decision before the summer vacation
Armasuisse, the Federal Office for Armaments, did not want to comment on the fact that individual manufacturers are now going public and revealing details. Every manufacturer is free to decide, said Peter Winter, responsible for the Air 2030 program at Armasuisse. All four offers will now be examined by spring. The Federal Council should then make the type decision before the summer holidays.