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Federal Council Approves Message on Army 2018 Plan


BERN --- Meeting on February 14, 2018, the Federal Council approved the message on the Army 2018 Plan to Parliament. Committing to appropriations for a total of about CHF 2 billion, it sets three priorities: modernizing certain Air Force systems, supplementing troops' equipment, and developing the training infrastructure. 

The Federal Council also called for the decommissioning of partial or complete systems that are no longer needed, including about half of the fleet of F-5 Tiger fighter aircraft.

The requested appropriations are intended to empower the Federal Council to make investments in the armaments and real estate of the armed forces. The funds, amounting to 2,053 million francs, are distributed as follows: 
-- 848 million CHF for the armament program: 
-- 742 million CHF for the framework credits for military equipment and 
-- 463 million CHF for the real estate program of the DDPS. 

The requested decommissioning of weapons systems involves the partial or complete retirement of systems that are no longer needed. 

Modernize Air Force Systems 
For the Air Force, funding is requested for the modernization of the secondary radar (114 million francs) and primary radar (16 million francs) for the Florako airspace monitoring system. It is also planned at the same time to replace the ground infrastructure of air force radiocommunication (126 million francs). Both systems are essential to the air force's response capability. 

Additionally, the upgrade and improvement of the protection of a military installation (39 million francs) for the benefit of the Air Forces and the transformation of Hall 4 on the Payerne Air Base (27 million francs) are planned. 

In addition, maintaining the operational value of the Cougar transport helicopters is necessary. They are engaged for the transport of equipment and of personnel. After the upgrade of the Super Puma helicopters a few years ago, it is now necessary to modernize the Cougar (168 million francs), which has been in service for twenty years. This work will allow them to remain in service until at least 2030. 

Complete the equipment of the troop 
The second priority in the Army 2018 message concerns the goal set in the development of the army (DEVA), i.e. to provide troops with a complete, modern and sufficient quantity of equipment so that the army can provide its services. 

The requested acquisition concerns the new modular clothing and equipment system (377 million francs). Almost half of the amount requested relates to ballistic body protection (e.g. protective vests). It was decided to proceed earlier with the acquisition of the modular clothing and equipment system - which was originally intended to be part of the 2019 Army Message - as individual military protection is a priority and that the evaluation of this system is already well advanced. 

A framework credit for subsequent acquisitions is required to supplement other elements of the troop's existing equipment (100 million francs), for example for assault rifles and sniper rifles. 

As in the previous year, two framework credits are also submitted in the message, one for equipment and modernization (420 million francs) and the other for training ammunition and ammunition management (172 million francs). 

Develop the training infrastructure 
The third priority of the 2018 Army message is the training infrastructure. As part of the parking concept and the implementation of DEVA, several sites will be closed. This decision stabilizes the financial needs in the real estate sector in the medium and long term. 

On sites that are retained, the goal is to focus and optimize usage. The present DDPS real estate program plans to develop the training infrastructure on three sites: expansion and transformation of the Drognens exercise area (40 million francs), development of the Wangen plaza a. A. (89 million francs) and development of the training infrastructure at Simplon (30 million francs). 

Decommission systems that are no longer needed 
In addition to acquisitions, the Federal Council is proposing for the first time the decommissioning of major weapons systems. The revised Army Act now requires it to take this step. The costs of decommissioning can be largely covered by expected liquidation revenues. In addition, annual operating expenses will decrease by 5.5 million francs. These savings are needed to free up financial means for investments. 

It is planned to decommission and sell the F-5 Tiger fighter aircraft which the army no longer needs. The remaining 26 aircraft will continue to be engaged to relieve the F / A-18s from ancillary tasks. They will be assigned mainly to training (serving as targets), monitoring radioactivity or the Swiss Patrol aerobatic team. 

The easing of the missions of the F / A-18 is one of the measures required to extend their service life until 2030. 

As part of the decommissioning of the fortress artillery, Bison fortress guns and the remaining 12 cm fortress palisades and related infrastructure must be either sold, or emptied and closed. Fortress artillery goes back a long way to the Cold War. If it was suitable to respond to the threats of the time, it has now lost its military value, especially since defense is now based on mobile forces. 

In conclusion, the Federal Council also calls for the decommissioning of self-propelled howitzers, the value of which has not been maintained, and tracked transport vehicles and tank destroyers. 

Sources of Information: 

Swiss Dept. of Defence, Public Protection and Sport

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