The Swiss Air Force is the air section of the Swiss Military Forces. It was founded in 1914 but did not become a distinct outfit separate from the other branches of the military until 1936.
An account written by a leading Swiss contemporary affairs magazine disclosed recently that the Swiss Air Force only provides operational aircraft during office hours from Monday to Friday. Swiss air force personnel have stated that due to budgetary constraints their airplanes are not ready for operations all the time. The complexity of protecting Swiss airspace is exemplified by the small size of the country. Switzerland is only 348 km wide at its broadest point which takes only about 20 minutes for an ordinary passenger aircraft to cover this distance. However, due o the long standing policy of neutrality held by Switzerland, it is highly unlikely that the Swiss air force should ever need to be deployed in an emergency situation for the purpose of self defense.
Swiss Air Force Airplanes
The Swiss air force uses a few different types of aircraft although its main air defense strategy relies on the use of American made F-18 Hornets, of which the Swiss air force possess 33.
The Swiss air force also still have in their possession approximately 50 of the older generation f-5 Tigers (mark II) although the plan is that these will soon be phased out in the forthcoming years. The plan is that coinciding with the retirement of the F-5, the Swiss air force will also procure new replacement airplanes although there is still much debate as to what model will be bought. Other than the f-18, which the Swiss air force already has, the new Euro fighter is being considered as a viable alternative. The Swiss air force plan to make the purchase of these new airplanes by 2010 leaving ample time for decision making.
Swiss Air force Helicopters
In addition to maintaining a fleet of airplanes, the Swiss air force also has several helicopters. The current model used by the Swiss is the Aérospatiale Alouette (mark III) of which there are approximately 60. However, the plan is for these to be replaced by 2011 with the newer Eurocopter EC-635s.