ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will spend no more than 8 billion Swiss francs ($8 billion) to purchase new fighter jets and missile defenses, the government said on Wednesday, toward the lower end of three options previously considered.
The government has tasked the defense department to look at which aircraft to buy, and wants it to begin talks with Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin and Saab.
As well as for defense, neutral Switzerland uses fighter jets to police the skies during events like the World Economic Forum in Davos. It wants the new planes to be delivered by 2025.
Switzerland is looking to replace its fleet of Boeing McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C and D Hornets and outdated Northrop F-5 Tigers, all of which are scheduled to be retired in the 2020s.
A defense ministry task force said in a report published in May that the most expensive and powerful option would be to buy 55-70 aircraft and ground-based air defense weapons for an estimated 15 billion to 18 billion francs.
The least expensive option would have been procuring 20 jets and accompanying ground-based air defense systems for 5 billion francs.
($1 = 0.9998 Swiss francs)
Reporting by Joshua Franklin and John Revill; Editing by Susan Fenton