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Swiss Air Force

The Cold War

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FLORIDA radar antenna.
During the Cold War, which pitted the West and Soviet Union against each other and lasted from the end of the war in 1945 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a multitude of nuclear weapons and thousands of conventionally armed fighter bombers were stationed throughout Europe. The Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) created a 'balance of terror.' Spurred on by this situation, aerial warfare technology raced ahead.


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DH-100 Vampire – the first jet aircraft introduced in the Air Force.
These international developments had a direct bearing on Switzerland's overall armament strategy. With the introduction of the Vampire in 1946, the Air Force took an early and bold step into the jet age. Very soon a decision was made to invest in the building of caverns for aircraft, the establishment of command and control and an underground Operations Centre.


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In 1952 3 Hiller helicopters were procured.
1954 was marked by three major events: the opening of the first Air Radar Recruit School, the commissioning of the first early warning radar systems and the introduction of the concept of mountain radar stations. This led, in 1965, to the acquisition of the early warning and command guidance system Florida, which is currently being replaced by the newer Florako system.


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BL-64 Bloodhound, in service until 1999.
In the Sixties, several important projects for the strengthening of ground-based anti-aircraft defence were realised, among them the radar-equipped medium-calibre guns with the integrated fire control system 63 'Superfledermaus,' as well as the Bloodhound missile system (in operation from 1964 to 1999).


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Mirage IIIS, in service 1964 -1999.
Switzerland's own development of combat aircraft was discontinued in 1958 after the termination of Projects P-16 and N-20. In 1964 the procurement of the Mirage fighter (Mirage IIIS in operation until 1999) caused a scandal due to the severe budget overrun involved. Head of the Air Force Etienne Primault, Chief of the General Staff Jakob Annasohn and Defence Minister Paul Chaudet sooner or later all had to resign or left prematurely. What followed was the complete restructuring of the Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Defence Force effective as of February 1, 1968. This led to a separation of users and procurement officials. Air Force, Air Base Logistics and Anti-Aircraft Defence were converted into brigades, and the Armed Forces Meteorological Group and Avalanche Rescue Service were assigned to the Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Command. Today's Parascout Company was established in 1969.


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From 1964 – 1994 the Patrouille Suisse flew Hunter aircraft.

1972 was the year of historic major maneuvers, with 22,000 participants, and also of the zero decision by the Swiss cabinet concerning the proposed procurement of a new ground support aircraft. The evaluation proceedings forming the basis for the decision between the American LTV A-7 Corsair II ground attack aircraft and the French Dassault Milan fighter-bomber caused a rift within the Air Force.



The growing significance of electronic warfare brought about the first systems operator training programme, in 1979. C³I Brigade 34, formed ad hoc in 1984, was converted to a regular brigade in 1991.








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Landings on motorways in the 80s.

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    Last updated: 26.07.2012
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