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June 30, 2021

Byron Callan quoted in BreakingDefense

"F-35 Nabs $6.5B Swiss Deal; ‘Lowest Operating Costs’" by Theresa Hitchens

Byron Callan quoted in Theresa Hitchens' BreakingDefense article, "F-35 Nabs $6.5B Swiss Deal; ‘Lowest Operating Costs’"

The article reads: 

“[T]he grounds for the decision are interesting,” Byron Callan, defense industry analyst at Capitol Alpha, said in an assessment of the Swiss move today. “We don’t know if some of the F-35’s stealth characteristics were de-tuned, which also would support lower sustainment costs.” Callan also noted that the “F-35 is a single engine aircraft and the ones it competed against are twin-engine jets.”

“With 336 points, it showed the highest overall benefit and was the clear winner with a lead of 95 points or more over the other candidates. This aircraft scored best in three of the four main criteria evaluated,” the Swiss statement added. Those categories were effectiveness; product support; cooperation; and the amount of “offset” work provided to Swiss industries.

Interestingly, the Federal Council also counted the F-35A’s “especially high level of cyber security” as a key point in its favor. Switzerland made all of the competitors promise “data autonomy” in operating the fighter jets, to limit Bern’s “dependencies” on the company and manufacturing country. “Switzerland controls which information to exchange with other air forces via data link, and what logistics information to report back to the manufacturer. In addition, the aircraft will be operated and maintained in Switzerland by the Swiss Air Force and RUAG Switzerland,” the Federal Council said.

“With the selection, Switzerland will become the 15th nation to join the F-35 program of record, joining several European nations in further strengthening global airpower and security. To date, the F-35 operates from 21 bases worldwide with more than 655 F-35s in service today,” Bridget Lauderdale, new Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program, said in a statement provided to Breaking Defense.

Callan opined that the Swiss win could give Lockheed Martin a leg up in the upcoming Finnish contest for 64 fighter jets to replace its F/A-18s, where its main competitor is assessed to be Saab’s Gripen. The Finnish contest is one of the two biggest international fighter competitions in the works. The other is Canada’s planned buy of 88 aircraft to replace its aging CF-18s. Capital Alpha has long put the F-35 as the top contender in that battle, with the other players being the Gripen and Boeing’s Super Hornet.

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