Swiss trip 2005
Words and photography Michael van der Mee
From October 10 till October 14 we spend a week in Switzerland to visit Meiringen, Payerne and Alpnach. Famous for it's very spotter friendly airbases, beautiful backgrounds and photo possibilities we looked forward to a great week. We started at Meiringen that during the week of the firepower demo hosted the F-5E Tiger II's that participated in the exercise.
The F-5E/F Tiger II entered service with the Swiss Air Force at the end of the seventies, the retirement of the Venom and the increased use of the Hunter aircraft for air-to-ground attack caused a gap in the field of area air-defence which was to be closed with the Northrop Tiger II.
In total the Swiss Air Force ordered 98 F-5E's and 12 F-5F conversion trainers in two badges (1976 and 1981). Today, of the 110 F-5's in total, approximately 75 remain in service. With the Patrouille Suisse flying the F-5E since the withdrawal of the Hawker Hunter out of service, the F-5 is a much more common sight in the European Skies and on Air Shows.
We concluded our trip with a visit to yet another beautifull base: Payerne. This base is home to the F/A-18's flown by the Swiss Air Force.
From October 1996 on, the first of 33 Hornets left the assembly bays at Emmen. The delivery was finished by the end of 1999. 17 Squadron was the first front squadron to retrain to the Hornet from June 1997 on, followed in the spring of 1998 by 18 Squadron. Last but not least, retraining was concluded by Dübendorf based Squadron 11, in 1999. These three squadrons are part of the Surveillance Wing.
The Swiss F/A-18 version weighs 17 tons, approximately two and a half times as much as the Tiger. It can easily load 7 tons, about six times the useful load the retired Hunter was able to carry. Two engines provide for a thrust of 16 tons, which is three and a half times as much performance as the engines of the F-5.
Completely different to the rest of the Air Force, the Hornets are exclusivly flow by fulltime pilots. The Hornet is in use since 1996 and serves as a multirole fighter, alongside the F-5E Tiger II it is the backbone of the Swiss Air Force.