The Swiss Army is considering purchasing large helicopters (such as the Boeing Chinook and Sikorsky King Stalion). The Swiss want to broaden the capability of doing peace keeping missions abroad. The Swiss heavy lift helicopters are planned to enter service in the second half of the decade. Part of the purchase is aimed at replacing the ageing Aerospatiale Super Pumas.

Heavy lift Helicopters for peace keeping missions

The Swiss Air Force and Swiss Army heavily rely on their current fleet of Aérospatiale AS332M1 Super Puma, Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar Mk1 and the Eurocopter EC-635 helicopter fleet for logistics, SAR and troop transport. But especially the Super Puma fleet is starting to age and will need replacement in the coming decade. The Swiss government wants to participate in peace keeping missions more in the coming decade. But the current fleet of Éurocopter Cougars and Super Pumas is not fully equipped to fulfil all the requirements for demanding missions abroad. Viola Amherd, Head of the Swiss Federal Defence Department, has indicated that as part of the replacement of the Super Pumas, Switzerland is considering to Swiss heavy lift Helicopters.

Heavy lift helicopters as replacement for ageing Super Pumas

At this moment it is unclear how many helicopters will be procured, but the plan is for them to enter service towards the end of this decade. The Air Force currently has a total 45 helicopters divided over 3 types:

  • Aérospatiale AS332M1 Super Puma (15)

  • Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar Mk1 (10)

  • Eurocopter EC-635 (20)

Swiss Heavy lift helicopter Boeing CH-47 Chinook flying over the Berner Oberland
Swiss Boeing CH-47 Chinook flying over the Berner Oberland. Picture © 2021 Martin Boschhuizen

Chinook or Stallion or…

The new helicopters are intended to replace part of the Super Puma that are all over 30 years old. The longlist of a large helicopter as a replacement is rather however. The only available helicopters in the world are the Boeing CH-47F Chinook and the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion. Both offer formidable capabilities but are also expensive with the Chinook costing USD 100 Million per aircraft and the CH-53K USD 130 Million. Especially considering the fact that the Swiss have shown in the past that procurement of military material is not a simple process, with many Swiss voters being critical of the need of these procurements. Some projects like the acquisition of the Saab Gripen fighter have been cancelled altogether after the Swiss voted against it in a referendum. As a sneak peak of what might be I have included a photo composition of a Swiss Boeing CH-47F Chinook over Axalp in the Berner Oberland.