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Air Defense During the WEF; Meiringen, January 21 & 22, 2015

The Swiss Air Force, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

During the WEF it is common in Switzerland that one airfield will host the increased operating activities in this period. The responsible airfield for these actions will rotate annually. During this year’s event Meiringen in Luzerne will fly the CAP missions. There are 24 hours a day fighters ready to respond to an alarm.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an annual meeting of the CEOs of the largest companies in the world. The forum participants are international politicians such as presidents, prime ministers and other politicians, intellectuals and journalists. A total in of 2,500 officials take each year part to the WEF. The WEF organizes in the winter a large annual meeting in Davos in eastern Switzerland and also several regional conferences on all continents. The WEF is an influential meeting for many parties as there are many heads of state and influential persons of great companies come together. The WEF was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab M. This man was a Swiss professor and a successful businessman. The WEF is headquartered in Geneva, where the organization is registered as a nonprofit foundation. This location employs more than 400 people from over 50 nationalities. The main task of the Swiss Armed Forces is to support the canton of Grisons with security operations during the WEF. This civilian operation comprises in the first instance contains the protection of facilities and personnel. However, the protection of the air sovereignty and safeguarding of the Swiss airspace is the main task of the Swiss Air Force. Some other important tasks of the armed forces are providing logistical support during the WEF. These are mainly the Coordinated Medical Services (GMS) .More than 5,000 men of the armed forces will serve in this civilian mission which will take during this forum from January 12 until January 26, 2015.

A well-functioning command structure is of great importance during a large-scale operation such as the WEF. The Command & Support Organization (CSO) during the WEF ensures communication between the security services of the cantonal police and the armed forces. This requires secure networks such as the national command and control network. This allows that the data from node to node can be transmitted in encrypted form. This network will link the radio systems of the police and the systems

of the Army and Air Force as air surveillance radar. Even logistically a lot must happen to get the WEF smoothly. The police mission for the WEF will be provided with safety equipment. There is a lot of ground material needed on the location of the WEF, such as; about 700 fence-elements with a total length of about 42 kilometers, and eight kilometers of barbed wire. The police also have access to surveillance equipment such as cameras and office containers. The Graubünden cantonal police will also be provided with equipment such as fire extinguishers, radios, fence elements, body armor and vehicles. The Swiss logistics battalion will also provide logistical elements to support the Grisons cantonal police. In addition, elements of the ground and air task forces are housed in the former Thurgauisch-Schaffhauserische Höhenklinik and all partners transport will be provided within the operations area.

Air traffic throughout Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and the northern part of Italy will be restricted within a radius of 25 nautical miles (about 46 km) from the center of Davos in Switzerland. Arrivals and departures at the regional airports and heliports are subject to specific rules and procedures drawn up by the Swiss Air Force in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation. Visual flight rules (VFR flights) are performed on predetermined routes and require prior authorization and accreditation for the pilots and their aircraft. From January 8, 2015 applied accreditation must be arranged at least 24 hours before the estimated take-off time to be submitted to the Air Force. As of January 20, 2015, the application must be arranged 72 hours before take-off. Flights not according to defined routes and flights to Davos are subject to a license. After the accreditation in the WEF period has been granted, a request for each flight needs to be done to the Air Force. The Air Force then decides in accordance with the operational requirements and safety if the application is submitted. The detailed procedures for applications are set out in official publications for aviation. The Swiss Air Force will patrol the skies in support of civil authorities and support flights using helicopters, propeller aircraft and fighter jets. In this period the Swiss Air Force will fly intensive and therefore also more noise will be produced in the vicinity of the Swiss military airfields. As of January 19, 2015, the restrictions on flight operations are applicable to all airspace users.

During the WEF it is normal in Switzerland that an airfield takes the increased operating activities for its account. The responsible airfield is rotated annually. This year it is Meiringen in Luzerne which is organizing the CAP missions. To support the increased flying activity, there are several F/A-18 Hornets and F-5E Tigers from the Payerne Air Base flown to Meiringen to attend the WEF. Shortly before the WEF it became known that many F-5 Tigers had problems with the wing suspension. The aircraft are already old and showed several cracks in the wing attachment. The consequence of this problem was that all Tigers in Switzerland were grounded until the aircraft were inspected thoroughly. This problem had a very bad timing for the Swiss Air Force. For this reason, there were only 17 Tigers available in Switzerland in order to take part in the WEF. However, the Swiss have managed together to get all 17 aircraft inspected and they approved aircraft at Meiringen for the WEF. All available Tigers were therefore used for the WEF. During the WEF four planes fly continuous simultaneously around in Switzerland. The flights usually consist of two F/A-18 Hornets and two F-5E Tigers. The fighters are patrolling during the WEF in groups of two aircraft in the Swiss airspace. The aircraft will climb to large heights after take-off and then they fly CAP patrols. When an unidentified aircraft enters the airspace or when a known plane deviates from its flight plan, fighter planes will intervene and force the aircraft to land.




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