Switzerland is going to a popular vote on the purchase of American F-35A

A Swiss alliance seeking to block the purchase of F-35A fighter jets delivered enough signatures to authorities on Tuesday to force a popular vote on the issue.

The left-wing Stop-F-35 alliance has handed over the 100,000 signatures required under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy to put any item to a vote.

After the authorities have verified the signatures, the government will have to set a date for the referendum.

“This initiative is only aimed at a type of aircraft,” the alliance’s statement stressed, adding that if Switzerland chooses another fighter, “the initiative will be withdrawn.”

The Swiss government agreed last June buy 36 F-35As from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

The purchase comes after a small referendum approved the military in September 2020 to spend six billion Swiss francs ($6.3 billion) on a new fleet.

The F-35A fighter jet, which is already in use by the US Air Force and a number of European countries, was chosen over the Airbus Eurofighter, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the French firm Dassault’s Rafale.

The government said the plane was better, but two Swiss parliamentary committees started an investigation why this model was chosen after a series of technical problems reported with the aircraft in the United States.

They also questioned the high cost of the planes.

The Stop-F-35 Alliance was formed to try to put the issue to a new popular vote.

But despite the concerns, the government announced in May that it wanted to speed up the purchase process as the US offer expires at the end of March 2023, prompting fears that Bern would not wait for a popular vote on the issue.

“The government and parliament must now do everything possible to ensure a popular vote and an urgent and necessary public debate on the largest military equipment contract in Swiss history,” the alliance’s website says. Switzerland is going to a popular vote on the purchase of American F-35A

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