* Financing plan to be in place by 2011
* Swiss defence minister regrets delay
ZURICH, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Switzerland has pushed back its purchase of new fighter jets until 2015 and given the defence and finance ministries until 2011 to come up with a financing plan, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said on Wednesday.
Maurer said at a press conference the decision was a result of Switzerland’s tight defence budget and added he regretted the decision as current fighter jets were essentially 1950s technology and needed to be replaced.
“They have been flying for 30 years,” Maurer said.
Switzerland has wanted to replace its ageing Northrop (NOC.N) F-5E/F Tiger fighters, purchased in 1976 and 1981, with up to 33 new aircraft.
Last week, Swiss television reported the defence ministry would propose to spend as much as 5 billion Swiss francs ($4.85 billion) to finance the buy of new fighter jets. [ID:nLDE67H0PH]
The Swiss deal is hotly contested within the international aerospace industry as it is seen as setting the stage for a number of upcoming projects in Europe.
Boeing (BA.N) pulled out of the bidding last year, leaving three other contenders: Anglo-German-Italian Eurofighter, built by EADS EAD.PA with BAE Systems (BAES.L) and Finmeccanica SIFI.MI; France’s Rafale, built by Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA); and the JAS 39 Gripen, built by Sweden’s Saab (SAABb.ST). (Reporting by Katie Reid and Andrew Thompson; Editing by Will Waterman) ($1=1.030 Swiss Franc)