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Units of the Swiss Air Force; Payerne, September 4, 2004

The Swiss Air Force, Part II; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The Swiss Air Force has currently 8 airports in operational use. The headquarters of the Swiss Air Force is located in Dübendorf. The units of the Swiss Air Force are next to the operational airfields also able to operate from quickly improvised airstrips on motorways. There are several prepared airstrips present in the country.

The first airbase of the Swiss Air Force is Payerne. This airfield is also the largest airbase of the Swiss Air Force and is located in the west of the country. There are 3 operational wings and a training wing stationed at this base. The training unit at Payerne is Ausbildungsstaffel 16 (Training Squadron 16). This unit is equipped with the Northrop F-5F Tiger II which is used for the training of fighter pilots. The first operational wing at Payerne is Fliegergeschwader 11 (Fighter Wing 11). This wing consists of 2 squadrons, namely; Fliegerstaffel 6 (Fighter Squadron 6) which is equipped with the Northrop F-5E Tiger II and Fliegerstaffel 17 (Fighter Squadron 17) which is equipped with the F-18C/D. Also the second wing at Payerne is equipped with combat aircraft. Fliegergeschwader 14 is also composed of 2 squadrons, namely; Fliegerstaffel 18 which flies the F-18C/D and Fliegerstaffel 19 which flies the Northrop F-5E Tiger II. The third wing at Payerne is a helicopter wing which is equipped with several transport helicopters. Lufttransportgeschwader 1 (Air Transport Wing 1) is composed of Lufttransportstaffel 1 (Air Transport Squadron 1) and Luft- transportstaffel 5 (Air Transport Squadron 5). Both squadrons fly the AS-332 Super Puma and the AS-532 Cougar for medium and large transport tasks. The unit flies besides these helicopters also the Allouette III helicopter for light transport duties. The second airbase in Switzerland is Meiringen; this airfield is located in the middle of the country. There is 1 Wing with combat aircraft stationed at this airbase. Fliegerge- schwader 13 consists also out of 2 squadrons. The first squadron is Fliegerstaffel 8 which operates the Northrop F-5E Tiger II. The second squadron at Meiringen is Fliegerstaffel 11. This squadron is equipped with the F-18C/D Hornett. The third airbase in Switzerland is Sion. This airbase is a so-called sleeping airbase. Detach- ments from Payerne are regularly stationed at this airbase. The F-5 and F-18 warplanes of Fliegergeschwader 14 are based at Sion during special events or in time of war. An example of a special situation is the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The fourth airfield of the Swiss Air Force is the training airbase Emmen. The base is located at the south of the city of Zürich. The Commando Pilot School is composed of 5 squadrons and is responsible for the overall training of the Swiss pilots. The first squadron at Emmen is Instrumentenflugstaffel 14 (Instrument Flight Squadron 14). This unit contains the basic pilot training in Switzerland and is equipped with the PC-7. The second unit at Emmen is Lufttransportgeschwader 7 and is equipped with the PC-6. This unit has nothing to do with the training of pilots and has therefore a standard operational transport task. The PC-6 is well suited to land at various landing strips which are very short in this mountainous country. The third squadron is the Pilots School. This squadron is also responsible for a part of the basic pilot training. The unit is equipped with the Pilatus PC-7 and in the future it will be equipped with the Pilatus PC-21. The Zielfliegerstaffel 12 (Target Towing Squadron 12) is the fourth squadron at Emmen. This squadron is equipped with the PC-9 and is used to tow targets. These targets are used by several fighter squadrons. The fifth squadron at Emmen is the most famous unit in Switzerland, namely; the Patrouille de Suisse. This unit flies several flying demonstrations at various airshows in Europe. Only the best pilots from Switzerland are able to enter this team. The Patrouille de Suisse is equipped with the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II. The aircraft are completely painted in the Swiss colors. Also Drohnenstaffel 7 (Drone Squadron 7) is next to the training squadrons stationed at Emmen. This unit flies drones on the type of ADS-95 (UAV).

The fifth airbase of the Swiss Air Force is Dübendorf. This airport is the most northern base of Switzerland and is located just north of Zürich. Dübendorf was the former home of the Swiss Mirage III photo reconnaissance aircraft. Today, Dübendorf is no operational fighter base anymore. Lufttransportgeschwader 3 is nowadays stationed at this base. This wing consists of 2 helicopter squadrons. The first helicopter unit in Dübendorf is Lufttransportstaffel 3. This unit is equipped with the AS-532 Cougar, the SA-332 Super Puma and the Allouette III. The second squadron at this base is Lufttransportstaffel 4. Also this unit is equipped with the same helicopters as Lufttransportstaffel 3. The helicopters are used for various tasks such as air transport and SAR duties. The sixth airbase in Switzerland is like the fifth airport, a helicopter base. The sixth field of the country is Alpnach which is located just south of Emmen. Also 1 helicopter wing is stationed at this base, namely Lufttransportgeschwader 2. Also this wing is divided into 2 squadrons. The first squadron at Alpnach is Lufttransportstaffel 6. The second squadron on this base is Lufttransportstaffel 8. Both units are just like the units at Dübendorf equipped with various helicopter types, such as; the AS-532 Cougar, the SA-332 Super Puma and the Allouette III. The helicopters at Alpnach have also a SAR task and various airlift tasks. The seventh airport of Switzerland is Bern. This airport is the international airport of the country. The military part of the airport of Bern is also called Belp. The VIP fleet of the Swiss Air Force is stationed at this airfield in addition to the civilian traffic. The Lufttransportdienst des Bundes (The State Aviation Administration) is responsible for all VIP flights of the Swiss government. The Air Force has aircraft in use of the type; Beach 1900, Cessna 560, Falcon 50 and Eurocopter EC635VIP. The eighth airbase in Switzerland is Magadino. Magadino is located in the south of the country in the middle of the Alps. There are no active units stationed at this field. The Fallschirmaufklärer Kompanie 17 (Parachute Company 17) is stationed at this field. Several planes of the transport units are stationed at this airfield on rotation basis. The most common types which are seen at this base are the PC-6 and several helicopter types. The Swiss Air Force is a relatively large air force for such a small country. The tasks of the units consist mainly of national tasks. The Swiss Air Force is with this equipment a modern air force.

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