A Swiss Air Force Axalp 2019 Aerial Display planned for Thursday has been canceled after cracks were found in the landing flap of a F/A-18 fighter jet.
According to the service news release, the Swiss Air Force discovered new cracks during inspection work on the flaps of F/A-18C/D fighters. As a result, the flight activity of the Swiss Hornet fleet is restricted in order to ensure flight safety
Noteworthy the two-day exercise, which was due to take place also on Oct. 9, had been canceled on Wednesday too because of the bad weather at the Ebenfluh firing range.
The Swiss Air Force chief of staff ordered additional inspections on the service F/A-18 aircraft. In the meantime, the Swiss Hornets will have to fly at an altitude of at least 1000 meters (3280 feet) while over land.
However, the F/A-18s will continue to ensure the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) service to defend Switzerland’s airspace.
The annual ‘Fliegerschiessen Axalp’ air show is held at the Axalp-Ebenfluh firing range at an altitude of 7,365 feet above sea level, making it pretty special. Helicopters buzz around the sharp mountain peaks, fast jets swoop in and rattle cannons off at orange targets placed on the mountainsides, and the Swiss display teams—the Hornet Display Team, PC-21 Display Team, and the well-known Patrouille Suisse—perform before the most dramatic backdrop imaginable.
In February 2018, cracks were found in the landing flaps of five jets and led to the grounding of the entire fleet for testing.
The Swiss air force currently owns and operates 30 F/A-18 Hornet jets, which have been used since 1997 and are viable until 2030 without being replaced.
The government has nevertheless proposed on various occasions buying new fighter jets and military defences for the army – most recently, a CHF6 billion ($6.1 billion) plan to buy new jets over the next few years that was announced in June.
The government’s plan has yet to be discussed by parliament, and could also land before the people if challenged to a popular vote. In 2014, voters rejected spending CHF3.1 billion on 22 new Gripen fighters from Saab.
In June the Swiss Air Force ended the evaluation for the five types of combat aircraft shortlisted (Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-35A and the Saab Gripen E) under the Air2030 program to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 fighter jets, and older model F/A-18C/D fighters.