Industryweek 6494 Swiss Voters Set Sink Swedish Jet Fighter Deal

Poll: Swiss Voters Set To Sink Swedish Jet Fighter Deal

April 11, 2014
Swiss voters are set to sink a massive defense deal with Swedish firm Saab to buy 22 fighter planes, an opinion poll showed Friday ahead of a referendum next month.

GENEVA -- Swiss voters are set to sink a massive defense deal with Swedish firm Saab (IW 1000/928) to buy 22 fighter planes, an opinion poll showed Friday ahead of a referendum next month.

The survey by the GFS.bern polling institute showed that 52% of voters opposed the plan, while 42% were in favor.

With just 6% of voters still to make up their minds, a turnaround by supporters of the fighter purchase appeared unlikely, the polling institute said.

Approved by the government in 2011 and backed by Parliament last September, the fighter deal cannot be blocked as such in the May 18 referendum.

Referendums form the cornerstone of Switzerland's system of direct democracy, and the campaigners forced a plebiscite by mustering more than 65,000 signatures from voters.

The Gripens are meant to replace Switzerland's three-decade-old fleet of 54 F-5 Tigers, built by U.S. group Northrop (IW 500/47).

The Swiss air force also has 32 F/A 18 Super Hornets built by U.S. company McDonnell Douglas, purchased in 1996.

The military notes that with a combined fleet of 54 Gripens and Super Hornets, Switzerland's fleet would lag far behind the 300 jets in service in the early 1990s.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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