Instead of France’s 4.5-generation Rafale fighter, Switzerland chose to sign an agreement to buy the US F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighter
In the past week, the most noisy incident was the fact that France accused the US of “stabbing in the back” when it made them lose a huge submarine contract for Australia, but this is not the last “gift” from Washington to Paris. France faced another setback when Switzerland decided to buy a fleet of F-35s from the US instead of the French Dassault Rafale fighter jet.
Reports from Swiss media suggested that Switzerland’s choice has led an “angry” Emmanuel Macron to cancel a meeting in Paris between the French president and his Swiss counterpart, President Guy Permlin. The meeting was scheduled for November, but reports indicate France is no longer in the mood to discuss strategic questions after Switzerland’s decision to call off a military deal.
Accordingly, instead of France’s 4.5-generation Rafale fighter, Switzerland chose to sign an agreement to buy the US F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighter. The deal is worth about $6 billion.
The news comes amid ongoing diplomatic tensions between France, Australia, and the US after the Australian government’s decision to cancel an agreement for French submarines. The Australian government chose US made nuclear-powered vessels instead, prompting the French foreign minister, Yves Le Drian to vent his frustration at both Washington and Canberra by saying that France had been stabbed in the back by two allies.
Despite the fact that the Rafale is considered the most advanced 4.5-generation multirole fighter today, it even defeated the Russian-made Su-35 in exercises conducted by the Egyptian Air Force. Obviously it still has a certain distance to the F-35. The big disadvantage of the Rafale is that it does not apply stealth technology, which is an important requirement in modern air battles, because the fifth-generation fighter will always be air combat out of sight.
Switzerland is a wealthy country with a relatively impressive defense budget, so they can afford to order the best products. Unless the US refuses to sell, there is no reason for Bern to refuse to buy the F-35. In addition, it must also be mentioned that France is subject to many scandals in its arms sales policy, for example, defense products are always overpriced and often come with many restrictive terms.