Air Bases and Airfields
Swiss Air Force

This page gives details of the air bases and airfields which have been or are used by the Swiss Air Force.

Location Name ICAO IATA Status
Alpnach Alpnach Airport LSMA (none) Active
Buochs/Stans Buochs Airport LSMU (none) Active
Dubendorf Dubendorf Airport LSMD (none) Active
Emmen Emmen Air Base LSME EML Active
Meiringen Meiringen Air Base LSMM (none) Active
Mollis Mollis Airport LSMF (none) Active
Payerne Payerne Airport LSMP (none) Active
Turtmann Turtmann Air Base LSMJ (none) Closed
Frutigen Frutigen Air Base LSFR (none) Closed
Ulrichen Ulrichen Air Base LSMC (none) Closed
Raron Raron Air Base LSMN (none) Closed
Sternenfeld Basel-Sternenfeld LS?? (none) Closed
Lodrino Lodrino LSML (none) Active
San Vittore San Vittore LS?? (none) Closed
Munster Munster LSPU (none) Active
Sion Sion Airport LSGS SIR Active

All-Time Units Listing
Swiss Air Force

This page lists all the aviation units of the Swiss Air Force, since its formation.

Einsatz Luftwaffe
Berufsfliegerkorps
Flugplatz Kommando 2
Flugplatz Kommando 4
Flugplatz Kommando 7
Flugplatz Kommando 11
Flugplatz Kommando 13
Flugplatz Kommando 14
Lufttransportgeschwader 2
Lufttransportgeschwader 3
Drohengeschwader 7
Kommando Pilotenschule Luftwaffe 85
Fliegergeschwader 11
Lufttransportgeschwader 1
Fliegergeschwader 13
Lufttransportgeschwader 4
Fliegergeschwader 14

Lufttransportstaffel 6
Lufttransportstaffel 8
Lufttransportstaffel 3
Lufttransportstaffel 4
Drohenstaffel 7
Instrumentenflugstaffel 14
Lufttransportstaffel 7
Zeilflugstaffel 12
Patrouille Suisse
Pilotenschule
Esc Av 17
Esc Av 6
Fliegertaffel 18
Lufttransportstaffel 1
Lufttransportstaffel 5
Fliegertaffel 8
Fliegertaffel 11
Lufttransportdienst des Bundes
Fliegertaffel 18
Fliegertaffel 19

Fliegerregiment 1
Fliegerregiment 2
Fliegerregiment 4
Fliegergeschwader 1
Fliegergeschwader 3
Fliegergeschwader 4
Fliegergeschwader 10
Fliegergeschwader 11
Fliegergeschwader 13
Fliegertaffel 13
Fliegertaffel 17
Fliegertaffel 1
Fliegertaffel 6
Esc Av 3
Fliegertaffel 10
Esc Av 1
LflSt 2
LflSt 3
LflSt 4
Fliegertaffel 16
Pilotenschule I
Pilotenschule II
Pilotenrekrutenschule

Uberwachungsgeschwader
Mirage-Gruppe

Fliegertaffel 2
Fliegertaffel 3
Fliegertaffel 4
Fliegertaffel 5
Fliegertaffel 7
Fliegertaffel 9
Fliegertaffel 12
Fliegertaffel 14
Fliegertaffel 15
Fliegertaffel 20
Fliegertaffel 21
Fliegertaffel 24
Lufttransportstaffel 2
GRD Armasuisse
MRD Militar Helikopter Rettungsdienst

Historical Order of Battle for 2008
Swiss Air Force

(Peacetime organisation)

Squadron Type Base
Berufsfliegerkorps
FlSt 11 F/A-18 Hornet Meiringen
FlSt 17 F/A-18 Hornet Payerne
FlSt 18 F/A-18 Hornet Payerne
Patrouille Suisse Northrop F-5E Emmen
LTDB (VIP Flight) Learjet 35, Falcon 50, King Air Dubendorf/Bern
Ressortluftaufklarung Do 27 Dubendorf
EscTA 1 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Payerne
LTSt 3 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Dubendorf
LTSt 4 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Dubendorf
LTSt 5 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Payerne
LTSt 6 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Alpnach
LTSt 7 PC-6/H2M Emmen
LTSt 8 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Alpnach
Other units
Drohenstaffel 7 ADS 95 Ranger UAV Emmen
ZFlSt 12 PC-9 Emmen
IFlSt 14 PC-7 Emmen
Ausbildungsunddienststaffel 16 Northrop F-5E/F (various)
Pilotenschule PC-7 Magadino
Jet-Pilotenschule I F-5F Sion

(Planned Wartime organisation)

Regiment Squadron Type Base
Fliegergeschwader 11
Esc Av 6 Northrop F-5E Payerne
Esc Av 17 F/A-18 Hornet Payerne
Drohenstaffel 7 ADS95 Ranger UAV Payerne & other sites
Fliegergeschwader 13
FlSt 8 Northrop F-5E Meiringen
FlSt 11 F/A-18 Hornet Meiringen
Fliegergeschwader 14
FlSt 18 F/A-18 Hornet Sion
FlSt 19 Northrop F-5E Sion
Kommando Lufttransport
Lufttransportgeschwader 1
EscTA 1 Super Puma, Cougar Payerne
LTSt 5 Alouette III Payerne
Lufttransportgeschwader 2
LTSt 6 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Alpnach
LTSt 8 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Alpnach
Lufttransportgeschwader 3
LTSt 3 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Mollis
LTSt 4 Alouette III, Super Puma, Cougar Mollis
Lufttransportgeschwader 7
LTSt 7 Pilatus PC-6 Emmen

 

Historical Orders of Battle List
Swiss Air Force

This page lists the historical Orders of Battle for the Swiss Air Force.

Historical Order of Battle for 1920

Historical Order of Battle for 1930

Historical Order of Battle for 1940

Historical Order of Battle for 1950

Historical Order of Battle for 1960

Historical Order of Battle for 1970

Historical Order of Battle for 1980

Historical Order of Battle for 1990

Historical Order of Battle for 2000

Historical Order of Battle for 2008

Key Dates
Swiss Air Force

1900    First Swiss military observation balloon unit created
31 July 1914    Swiss military air arm established (Fliegertruppe)
August 1914    Unable to buy aircraft from neighbouring countries, the Swiss government asks the first eight pilots called up to bring their own aeroplanes
1914-1918    Swiss air arm carries out periodic reconnaissance flights to maintain neutrality
19 October 1936    Air Force becomes an independent service (Schweizerische Flugwaffe)
11 September 1937    First M.S.406H arrives in Thun
November 1938    First Bf 109D delivered
September 1939    Neutrality patrols established by fighter units
November 1939    First Swiss produced M.S.406H (D3800) accepted.
10 May 1940    When France invaded, Swiss air space repeatedly violated by German aircraft. mainly bombers returning from France
11 June 1940    Four Swiss Bf 109s shoot down two He 111s that had crossed the frontier
1946    First jet aircraft delivered – Vampire F.1
1946    Air Force name changed to Swiss Air Force & Anti-Aircraft Command
1948    Air Force receives the first 25 of 130 Mustangs bought from the USA
1952    First helicopters received – Hiller 360
January 1958    Swiss Parliament approves order for 100 Hawker Hunter F Mk. 5
June 1961    Swiss Parliament authorises the purchase of 100 Mirage III from France
8 August 1964    Official aerobatic team the Patrouille Suisse is first formed with 4 Hunters
1995    Aerobatic team Patrouille Suisse switches from Hunter to F-5E Tiger II
1 Jan 1996    Air Force name changed to present title

Swiss Air Force

Operator Profile

History

Narrative Summary

Air Force History

Key Dates

Air Force Timeline

Current Status

To be added

Future Plans

Obtain a replacement for the F-5E.

Markings

National Insignia

CurrentHistorical

Aircraft Serial Numbers

Up until 1934, Swiss military aircraft were allocated a simple three digit numerical serial number. After this date a letter was added to the serial indicating the aircraft’s main role: A = Transport, B = Bomber/Photo Survey, C = Reconnaissance, J = Fighter, U = Trainer, V = Observation/Liaison; eg: Vampire J-1005.

Aircraft

Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Organisation

Main Headquarters

Papierm├╝hlstrass 14, 3000 Bern 25.

Organisational Structure

In ‘peacetime’ the Berufsfliegerkorps (Professional Aviation Corps) and the Kommando Lufttransport (Air Transport Command) are the only full time operational units – called the Einsatz Luftwaffe. The remaining staffeln are reserve units, called up at intervals during the year for deployment to their wartime bases. At other times, refresher and continuation training is carried out at the major bases.

Current Order of Battle

Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle

List of Historical Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List

Units List

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The main air bases currently used are Alpnach, Dubendorf, Emmen and Payerne.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

A number of older air bases have been closed, and there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are designated as wartime bases for use by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing


More Information

Books

Swiss Military Aviation Bibliography – to be added.

Magazines

World Air Power Journal No.5 p.152-156
Air Forces Monthly December 1993

Websites

Swiss Air Force Photo Feature 1
Swiss Air Force Photo Feature 2

Official Homepage of the Swiss air Force

wikipedia: Swiss Air Force
wikipedia: History of the Swiss Air Force

Scramble: Swiss Air Arms

Aircraft Pictures from Switzerland

Airshow Action Foto Gallery: Payerne 2007

PlanePictures.net

Airliners.net

Swiss Air Force at Work in the Alps

Swiss Air Force PC-7 Team

Swiss Mustangs

Current Order of Battle
Swiss Air Force

(Peacetime organisation)

Squadron Type Base

Einsatz Luftwaffe

Berufsfliegerkorps
Flugplatz Kommando 2
Lufttransportgeschwader 2
LTSt 6 EC635, Super Puma Alpnach
LTSt 8 EC635, Super Puma Alpnach
Lufttransportgeschwader 3
LTSt 3 EC635, Super Puma Dubendorf (peacetime)
LTSt 4 EC635, Super Puma Dubendorf (peacetime)
Flugplatz Kommando 4
Pilotenschule PC-7 Locarno/Magadino
Flugplatz Kommando 7
Drohengeschwader 7
Drohenstaffel 7 ADS 95 Ranger UAV Emmen
Kommando Pilotenschule Luftwaffe 85
IFlSt 14 PC-7 Emmen
LTSt 7 PC-6/H2M Emmen
ZFlSt 12 PC-9, F-5F Emmen
Patrouille Suisse Northrop F-5E Emmen
Pilotenschule PC-7 Magadino
Flugplatz Kommando 11
Fliegergeschwader 11
Esc Av 17 F/A-18 Hornet Payerne
Esc Av 6 (reserve) Northrop F-5E Payerne
FlSt 18 F/A-18 Hornet Payerne (peacetime)
Lufttransportgeschwader 1
LTSt 1 EC635, Super Puma Payerne
LTSt 5 EC635, Super Puma Payerne
Flugplatz Kommando 13
Fliegergeschwader 13
FlSt 8 (reserve) Northrop F-5E Meiringen
FlSt 11 F/A-18 Hornet Meiringen
Lufttransportgeschwader 4
LTDB (VIP Flight) Learjet 35, Falcon 50, King Air Dubendorf/Bern
Flugplatz Kommando 14
Fliegergeschwader 14
FlSt 18 F/A-18 Hornet Sion (wartime)
FlSt 19 (reserve) Northrop F-5E Sion

 

National Markings
Swiss Air Force

This section describes and illustrates the various national insignia used by the Swiss Air Force since its formation:


   
Main MarkingFin Flash

1915-1945
By late 1915 Swiss military aircraft were being marked with the national flag, on the wings and on the fin/rudder. During WW2 red-white stripes were added to the wings and fuselage as neutrality markings.



   
Main MarkingFin Flash

1945-present
Since 1945 the national markings have usually been presented in the form of a roundel. The main marking is displayed on the fuselage sides of the helicopters, and above and below each wing and on aircraft. The fin flash is carried in place of a fuselage roundel on aircraft. Aircraft do not carry service titles.

All-Time Aircraft Used List
Swiss Air Force

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aero Commander 680FL Grand Commander 1 1966 1993 USA
Aerospatiale AS 332M-1 Super Puma 15 1987 current France/Switzerland
Aerospatiale SA.365N1 Dauphin 1 1985 2009 France
Aerospatiale AS.532UL Cougar 12 2001 current France
Albatros D.IIIOe 1 1920 1921 Austria-interned
Alfred Comte AC-1 1 1928 1939 Switzerland
Alfred Comte AC-4 Gentleman 1 1931 1938 Switzerland
Alfred Comte AC-11V 1 1943 1945 Switzerland
Aviatik (Etrich) Taube 1 1915 1915 Germany
Aurora Flight Sciences Centaur 1 2012 current USA
Aviatik C.I 1 1914 1917 Germany
Aviatik C.III 1 1917 1919 Germany-interned
Beech C18S/C-45F Expeditor 3 1948 1969 USAAF
Beech E50 Twin Bonanza 3 1957 1989 USA
Beech 350 Super King Air 1 1993 current USA
Beech 1900 1 2007 current USA
BFW M-18c 1 1929 1951 Germany
BFW M-18d 2 1935 1954 Switzerland
Bleriot XI-b 2 1914 1919 France
British Aerospace Hawk Mk.66 20 1990 2002 Switzerland
Bucker Bu 131B Jungmann 94 1936 1971 Germany/Switzerland
Bucker Bu 133C Jungmeister 52 1937 1968 Germany/Switzerland
Bucker Bu 181B Bestmann 7 1944 1956 Germany-interned
Cessna 560XL Citation 1 2002 current USA
Dassault Falcon 50 1 1996 current France
Dassault Mirage IIIBS 4 1964 2003 France
Dassault Mirage IIICS 1 1964 1981 France
Dassault Mirage IIIDS 2 1983 2003 France
Dassault Mirage IIIRS 18 1965 2003 Switzerland
Dassault Mirage IIIS 36 1966 1999 France/Switzerland
de Havilland DH.9 3 1922 1929 local airline
de Havilland DH.9A 1 1920 1929 UK
de Havilland Mosquito PR.IV 1 1945 1954 UK-interned
de Havilland Mosquito FB.VI 1 1945 1951 UK
de Havilland Vampire FB.1 4 1946 1961 UK
de Havilland Vampire FB.6 178 1949 1991 UK/Switzerland
de Havilland Vampire NF.10 1 1958 1961 UK
de Havilland Vampire T.55 39 1953 1991 UK/Switzerland
de Havilland Venom Mk.1 126 1954 1984 Switzerland
de Havilland Venom Mk.1R 24 1956 1984 Switerland
de Havilland Venom Mk.4 100 1956 1984 Switzerland
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 1 1976 current Canada
Dewoitine D.1C-1 2 1925 1939 France
Dewoitine D.9C-1 3 1928 1940 Switzerland
Dewoitine D.19C-1 3 1926 1940 France/Switzerland
Dewoitine D.26 11 1931 1948 France
Dewoitine D.27 III 66 1928 1944 Switzerland
Dornier Do 27H-2 7 1958 2009 Germany
Dornier D-3802 (MS.540) 2 1947 1956 Switzerland
Dornier D-3802A (MS.540) 11 1947 1956 Switzerland
Dornier D-3803 1 1947 1956 Switzerland
Dufaux 4 1 1910 1910 Switzerland
Dufaux 5 1 1911 1911 Switzerland
EKW C-35 90 1937 1954 Switzerland
EKW C-3601 1 1939 1939 Switzerland
EKW C-3602 1 1940 1940 Switzerland
EKW C-3603 242 1942 1974 Switzerland
EKW C-3604 13 1947 1956 Switzerland
EKW C-3605 Schlepp 24 1971 1987 Switzerland
EKW D-3800 (MS.406 C-1) 82 1940 1954 Switzerland
EKW D-3801 (MS.506 C-1) 207 1941 1959 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-1 (M I) 6 1916 1919 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-2 (M II) 6 1916 1922 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-3 (M III) 109 1917 1939 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-4 (M IV) 1 1918 1918 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-5 (M V) 59 1922 1940 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-5 X (M Vx) 1 1924 1933 Switzerland
EKW Häfeli DH-5A (M Va) 20 1929 1940 Switzerland
EKW MA-7 1 1926 1926 Switzerland
EFW N-20.2 Arbalete 1 1951 1954 Switzerland
EFW N-20.10 Aiguillon 1 1952 1953 Switzerland
Eurocopter EC135P2 2 2008 current Germany
Eurocopter EC635P2 18 2008 current Germany/Switzerland
Fairey Fox Mk.VI 2 1935 1945 UK
Farman HF.20 2 1914 1918 France
Farman MF.11 Shorthorn 2 1915 1916 France
FFA P-16 Dusenstorch 5 1955 1958 Switzerland
Fieseler Fi 156C-3 Trop Storch 5 1940 1963 Germany
Focke Wulf Fw 44F Stieglitz 1 1945 1953 Germany-interned
Fokker C.V-D 1 1927 1945 Netherlands
Fokker C.V-E 63 1933 1954 Netherlands/Switzerland
Fokker C.IX 1 1932 1947 Netherlands
Fokker D.II (M 17 Z) 1 1916 1922 Germany-interned
Fokker D.VII 27 1920 1941 Germany/Switzerland
Fokker D.XI Wildsau 2 1925 1939 Netherlands
Grandjean L/L-1 1 1914 1915 Switzerland
Halberstadt C.V 3 1918 1922 interned/Germany
Hanriot HD-1 16 1921 1930 Italy
Hawker Hind 1 1936 1945 UK
Hawker Hunter F.58 100 1958 1994 UK
Hawker Hunter F.58A 52 1971 1994 UK
Hawker Hunter T.68 8 1974 1994 UK
Hiller 360/UH-12B 3 1952 1962 USA
Junkers Ju 52/3mg4e 3 1939 1981 Germany
Learjet 35A 2 1988 2006 USA
LVG C.III Schneider 2 1914 1916 Germany
LVG C.VI 2 1920 1929 Germany-interned
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet 26 1997 current Switzerland
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Hornet 8 1997 current Switzerland
Messerschmitt Bf 108B Taifun 18 1938 1959 Germany
Messerschmitt Bf 109D-1 10 1939 1949 Germany
Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 30 1939 1948 Germany
Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 59 1939 1948 Germany/Switzerland
Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 2 1942 1947 Luftwaffe-interned
Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 14 1944 1947 interned/Germany
Morane-Saulnier 3C.1/Type LMS Parasol 1 1915 1919 France
Morane-Saulnier 30E.1 1 1918 1918 France
Morane-Saulnier 35 Hélène 1 1914 1919 France
Morane-Saulnier MS.229 Et2 2 1931 1939 France
Morane-Saulnier MS.406C-1 2 1939 1954 France
Nardi FN-315 2 1944 1948 Italy
Nieuport 23C.1 5 1917 1921 France
Nieuport 28C.1 Bébé 15 1918 1930 interned/France
Nord 1203 Norecrin 1 1948 1954 France
North American P-51B Mustang 1 1944 1945 USAAF-interned
North American P-51D Mustang 130 1948 1957 USA
North American AT-16 Harvard IIB 40 1949 1968 RCAF
Northrop F-5E Tiger II 99 1978 current USA/Switzerland
Northrop F-5F Tiger II 12 1978 current USA/Switzerland
Pilatus P2 55 1945 1981 Switzerland
Pilatus P3 73 1956 1995 Switzerland
Pilatus PC-6/H2M Turbo Porter 19 1967 current Switzerland
Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer 41 1979 current Switzerland
Pilatus PC-9 17 1988 current Switzerland
Pilatus PC-12 1 1995 current Switzerland
Pilatus PC-21 6 2008 current Switzerland
Piper PA-18-125/150 Super Cub 6 1952 1976 USA
Piper PA-31-350 Navajo 4 1996 1997 USA
Potez XXV (L-25 A.2) 17 1927 1940 France
Potez 630C.3 1 1938 1944 France
Potez 632B.2 1 1938 1944 France
RUAG ADS-95 Ranger 24 ?? current Switzerland
RUAG KZD-85 60 1985 current Switzerland
Rumpler C.IV 1 1920 1921 Germany
Rumpler C.VII 1 1920 1920 Germany
Sablatnig SAB P-III 1 1922 1929 Germany
Siebel Si 204D-1 1 1946 1955 Germany-interned
Siemens-Schuckert S.S.W. D.III 1 1918 1922 Germany-interned
Stinson L-5A Sentinel 1 1944 1945 USAAF-interned
Sud Aviation SO.1221S Djinn 4 1958 1963 France
Sud Aviation SE.3130 Alouette II 30 1958 1993 France
Sud Aviation SE-3160 Alouette III 84 1964 2010 France/Switzerland
SWS C-1 1 1919 1920 Switzerland
Voisin 5 LAS 1 1915 1919 France
Weber-Landolf-Munch WLM-1 2 1951 ?? Switzerland
Wild Spezial 1 1917 1917 Switzerland
Wild WT 4 1917 1923 Switzerland
Wild WT-1/WT-1 S 33 1916 1934 Switzerland
Wild WTS 6 1915 1934 Switzerland
Zeppelin LZ C-II 2/C-II 2 V 22 1920 1927 Germany

Additional information is welcome

Narrative History
Swiss Air Force

On July 31, 1914 the government of Switzerland took the first step in founding an air force. Some idea of the difficulties involved may be gleaned from the fact that, when the 8 pilots invited to form the initial flying personal attended their first meeting, they were asked to bring their own aircraft. (A citizens’ air force indeed!) During the war, there were only periodic reconnaissance flights carried out and it is safe to say that there was more activity on the part of Swiss pilots serving in the French air force during this period than there was at home.

In 1936 the Swiss government took a major step by turning their air force into a separate unit of the country’s armed forces. Given that the most modern aircraft used at the time was the obsolescent Dewoitine D27 purchased from France, the move was a wise one in that it provided the impetus for a modernisation program. This gained momentum when, in 1937 the MS 406, a relatively modern fighter aircraft, was chosen, with the majority of the order built under license in Switzerland and called the D3800. This decision was followed shortly afterwards by the selection of the German Bf 109D

With the latter the Swiss may have wondered if they had picked the right plane. The 109 series never claimed landings as one of their strong points, due mainly to the narrow landing gear. At any rate the first 109D to arrive ground-looped at Dubendorf, the second crash landed near Frauenfeld on its way, the third crashed into Lake Constance on its first flight after arrival and the fourth crash landed near Mollis less than one month after delivery. . When the E model became available, it replaced the D model in deliveries to Switzerland. By the beginning of the war, both the MS 406 and the Bf109 were in squadron service.

With such modern aircraft activity on the part of the Swiss air force was much more pronounced than in World War I. The main problem was the repeated incursion of Swiss air space by German fighters and bombers, mostly on their way back from France, and it was not long before 2 He111’s were shot down by Swiss Bf109E’s, the first time that the Germans had one of their own aircraft brought down by a German fighter. albeit in Swiss markings. This was to go on for most of the war, punctuated only by Allied aircraft crossing the country on their way to and from bombing runs or, because of battle damage, attempting to land at Swiss airfields. By the end of the war over 50 American bombers sought refuge at Dubendorf, near Zurich.

In 1944 the Swiss were able to supplement their MS406’s and the Bf1109E’s by the newer G model. However, the quality of the latter was extremely poor with problems being encountered after only 15-20 hours of flight. They were, therefore, little used and were withdrawn in 1948. It turned out that this drop in quality on the part of the manufacturer was partly explained by the fact that young German fighter pilots were being rushed into service before their training was completed satisfactorily and most of them were killed before reaching 15 hours in combat.

In 1944 the Swiss also completed production of a domestically designed reconnaissance bomber, the C3603. This was the first major design of a Swiss military aircraft. They also produced 207 units of an upgraded model of the MS406, called the D3801, an upgrade which featured a more powerful engine, one of the most noticeable shortcomings of the earlier model.

After the war, action picked up again in 1948 when the government took advantage of an American surplus of Mustang fighter aircraft to purchase 130 of them still located in Germany for $4,000 apiece. By the end of the year all 130 had been delivered to Switzerland. Not to be left behind in the approaching era of jet aircraft, an order was placed for 75 De Havilland Vampire Mark 6 fighters from Gt. Britain. These were, in essence, Mark 5’s with an uprated engine. A further order of 100 followed in 1950 with the latter to be license built at the Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory located beside the air base at Emmen, near Lucerne.

Wit the arrival of the Vampires, the Mustangs were relegated to ground attack duties and, when the air force opted in 1953 for the Venom, an advanced version of the Vampire, the Mustangs were withdrawn from service. 150 Mark l Venoms were produced in Emmen, with the last 24 being equipped for the tactical reconnaissance role. In 1956 a further 100 Venoms were ordered, this time the Mark 3.

The next major re-equipment program took place in 1958 when 100 Hawker Hunter Mk.58’s were ordered. The first 12 were refurbished while the last 88 were newbuilds. With the arrival of the Hunters, the relegation of the Vampires and the Venoms to the training role commenced.

In 1961 a further step in the modernisation program was taken by the choice of the Mirage III to equip four fighter squadrons and one reconnaissance squadron, the Mirage being chosen after a stiff competition from the Swedish Saab Draken. The total number ordered was 100, of which all but four were to be license built in Switzerland. Due to horrendous cost overruns, mainly because of the selection of more advanced radar and missile systems, the number actually built was reduced to 57 but not before the Swiss had to endure, in 1964, one of the most acrimonious of political crises. After the lower number was chosen, only two fighter squadrons and one reconnaissance squadron could be equipped.

On a more positive note an aerobatic team was formed that same year on the Hawker Hunter, with four aircraft making up the initial unit. This was later to be expanded to six aircraft and in 1981 the unit, called the Patrouille Suisse, made its first foreign performance. In 1995 it switched to the F5C Tiger II’s. In 20 years of service with the P.S., not one Hunter was lost

The early 70’s saw more activity in the acquisition of new aircraft. In 197l additional Hunters were ordered, with 52 being refurbished Mk. 58’s and 8 new build two seat trainers Mk. 68’s. The following year an evaluation took place of the American Corsair II and the French Dassault Milan and, although the Corsair II was chosen, no production ever took place of this aircraft for the Swiss. Instead, in 1976 the Flugwaffe opted for the F5 Tiger II. 72 E’s were ordered as well as 6 F’s, with the bulk of the order being produced at Emmen.

1981 was an eventful year. First in line was a repeat order for the Tiger II’s; with 32 being the single seat variety and the remaining 6 twin seaters. In the same year Staffel No. 11, flying some of the aircraft of the original order, took part in the prestigious NATO Tiger Association Trophy competition and emerged as the winning squadron, being the only non-NATO air force ever to win the award.

In 1987 in search of an aircraft to provide jet training for its fledgling pilots, the Flugwaffe evaluated the French/German Alpha jet and the British BAe Hawk as a replacement for the Vampire T55 which was nearing the end of its useful life. The Hawk was declared the winner and an order placed for 20, with all but one produced at Emmen. Production of this aircraft was completed in 1991.

By that time attention had turned to a modern fighter aircraft which resulted in a fly-off between the F/A 18 and the F-16. The twin-engined F/A 18 proved to be the winner but it was not until a national referendum was held in 1993 (June 6) that the decision was made to order the plane into production for the Swiss.

During the same time the large supply of Hunters was finally being run down and by 1996 the plane had virtually disappeared from Swiss skies. The same year saw the arrival (Dec. 17) of the first of two F/A18C’s produced in the USA while in October the first D model made its initial flight at Emmen. Construction is to be completed in 1999 when the aircraft will replace the Mirage IIIS in the air defence role.

At the present time Swiss pilots take their initial training on the Pilatus PC-7 at Mogadino in the canton of Ticino. Those successful in this stage then do their advanced training on the Hawk at Sion in the canton of Valais before moving on to squadron service. Full time pilots normally serve with the surveillance squadrons (Ueberwachungsgeschwader) while militia (part-time) pilots are assigned to the various squadrons in this category.

For a small country Switzerland has a surprisingly large number of airfields for use by the military. The three main ones, which are continuously active and at which the surveillance squadrons are located, are at Dubendorf, near Zurich, Emmen, near Lucerne and Payerne, near Fribourg in the French-speaking part of the country. Other fields, in addition to the training fields mentioned above, are to be found at Meiringen, Mollis, Raron, Turtmann, Ulrichen, Alpnach, Stans, St. Stephan, Interlaken and Ambri while secondary fields are located at Samedan, Sarnen, Zweisimmen, Grenchen, Lodrino, Kagiswil, Fruitigen, Reichenbach and Sanvittore. In addition, airports are available at Altenrhein and Thun. The air force has also conducted exercises using parts of the country’s four-lane highway system as a runway. Finally, due to the cramped space, training has, on occasion, been carried out at the NATO base at Decimomanu in Sardinia and in Sweden. A Swiss built F/A 18C was also demonstrated to the Czechs at Hradec Kralove in Sept. 1997.

Not only do the Swiss keep their aircraft in immaculate condition, which accounts to a considerable degree for their long years of service but some of the landing fields listed above provide access to mountain caverns in which the entire air force can be hidden. This may entail hanging some of the aircraft from the ceiling of the caverns and the entire system gives some indication of how far the country is willing to go to protect its aircraft in an emergency.

1996 also saw the change in the name of the chief aircraft manufacturing facility in the country from the Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory to the Swiss Aircraft and Systems Co. (Schweizerische Unternehmung fuer Flugzeuge und Systeme).

(Original text by courtesy of Ray Canon).