Aerospace & Defense

Airbus offers to assemble Eurofighter in Switzerland to win $6.5 bln deal -report

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A Eurofighter jet takes off as German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visits the 73th Tactical Air Force Wing "Steinhoff" at Base Laage, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, Germany March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo

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ZURICH, June 27 (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) has offered to assemble Eurofighter aircraft in Switzerland if Bern picks it for a 6 billion Swiss franc ($6.5 billion) defence contract, a top salesman at the consortium told a Swiss Sunday newspaper.

Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, who make the Eurofighter, have also offered Bern sweeping political cooperation should it win the Swiss contest between two U.S. and two European fighter jets, which are to be delivered by 2025.

The Swiss cabinet is set to decide on Wednesday among the Eurofighter, the Rafale from France's Dassault (AVMD.PA), Boeing's (BA.N) F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's (LMT.N) F35-A Lightning II to replace ageing F/A-18 Hornets.

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Swiss television reported last week that the F-35 provided the best technical and financial features in a Swiss evaluation, but the final decision was still open. read more

The SonntagsZeitung paper quoted Bernhard Brenner, head of sales at Airbus Defence and Space, as saying neutral Switzerland should not go by that evaluation alone.

"The economic and political elements are just as important," he said. The paper said Airbus has submitted a 700-page dossier on economic "offsets" alone, referring to side deals that funnel contract costs back to local suppliers.

The government is split among those who favour the F-35 and those who would prefer a European deal to help smoothe relations with the European Union after Switzerland ditched a draft bilateral treaty after years of talks.

The defence ministers of Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain wrote to Bern last year offering not just military cooperation such as training, but also partnerships in economics, energy, science, the environment, transport, cybersecurity and infrastructure, Brenner told the paper.

France has been pushing Bern to pick the Rafale, while U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the deal with Swiss leaders while in Geneva this month to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The defence ministry has declined to comment on the process.

($1 = 0.9175 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alexander Smith

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