The Swiss Armed Forces have published a report on the future of their Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft and thus, the Patrouille Suisse team. It states the intention to operate the F-5 until the end of 2027 ahead of the introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II in 2028.

It states “Given the current financial situation of the federal government and the Army’s consistent focus on regaining defence capability, the Swiss Armed Forces intend to continue operating the F-5 Tiger fleet until the end of 2027. With the acceptance of the first F-35A aircraft in Switzerland from 2028 and the parallel continuation of the F/A-18 Hornet fleet, the Armed Forces have neither the need nor the personnel, finances or infrastructure to operate the F-5 Tigers as a third fleet.

The Swiss Air Force currently has 25 F-5s in it fleet, of which 18 are currently operational. The remaining 7 aircraft out currently out of service in maintenance, but could be made airworthy again. As well as duties with the Patrouille Suisse, the Swiss F-5s are used for combat training and target towing operations with the countries fleet of F/A-18C/D Hornets. Approximately half of the F-5s operational are with the Patrouille Suisse team.

The report goes on to state “With the end of F-5 flight operations at the end of 2027, as is currently planned, Patrouille Suisse will no longer be able to fly on a jet aircraft (F-5). The flight demonstrations provide important opportunities to show the work, capabilities and importance of the Air Force to a wide audience. For this reason, the most sensible solution seems to be for Switzerland to continue to have a demonstration team after 2027, but to fly with a cheaper and lower-emission turbine-propeller aircraft (PC-7) instead of a jet aircraft. This task can be carried out by the existing PC-7 display team of the Swiss Air Force.

This option is now to be discussed with the security policy committees.

It has previously been thought that 2025 would see the retirement of the F-5 with 2024 being the last full season for the Patrouille Suisse. However the 2025 date was rejected by Switzerland’s politicians.

With this new report it may be that the Patrouille Suisse soldiers on for maybe up to three or four more seasons before eventually the PC-7 Team become Switzerland’s only national aerobatic team. It is a subject of much political debate in Switzerland and there is still much opposition to the retirement of the F-5. Speaking to SPF, Peter Merz, the commander of the Swiss Air Force said; “We intend to continue to make flight demonstrations after 2027. But it is the case that the Patrouille Suisse will no longer be able to fly on a jet. President Viola Amherd will discuss with the security policy committees of the National Council and the Council of States how flight demonstrations can be implemented in the future.