If Invading Switzerland, Please Do So Outside Of "Office Hours"

Tyler Durden's picture

When overnight we were following the Ethiopian Airline hijacking story, one thing that was missing from the Twitter narrative was the lack of any reports of scrambled Swiss fighter jets - something that has become a staple when an airplane deviates even modestly from its course above the continental United States. As it turns out it wasn't merely a journalistic oversight: there were, in fact, no fighter jets scrambled. Why? Because the hijacking which took place around 3 am, and culminated with the 767 landing in Geneva just after 6 am, took place outside of regular air force hours!

The AFP's reporter writing up this story must have been trying hard to avoid bursting brain capillaries due to excess laughter. Here is the gist:

When the co-pilot on flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome locked himself in the cockpit while the pilot went to the bathroom and announced a hijacking, Italian and French fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane through their respective airspaces.


But although the co-pilot-turned-hijacker quickly announced he wanted to land the plane in Switzerland, where he later said he aimed to seek asylum, Switzerland's fleet of F-18s and F-5 Tigers remained on the ground, Swiss airforce spokesman Laurent Savary told AFP.


"Switzerland cannot intervene because its airbases are closed at night and on the weekend," he said, adding: "It's a question of budget and staffing."


Monday's hijacking, carried out by 31-year-old Hailemedehin Abera Tagegn, according to Addis Ababa, took place in the very early hours, with the aircraft and its 202 passengers and crew landing safely in Geneva at 6:02 am (0502 GMT).


That was just two minutes after the airport opened for business, and two hours before the Swiss airforce is operational.

So how long until the neutral Swiss can hope to have 24/7 fighter jet protection? At least another 6 years.

French fighters can escort a suspicious aircraft into Swiss airspace, "but there is no question of shooting it down. It's a question of national sovereignty".


Swiss airspace is under constant electronic surveillance, he pointed out, adding that the wealthy Alpine nation is also studying the possibility of expanding its airforce coverage to a round-the-clock operation. That plan is however not set to kick into action until 2020, when Switzerland is expected to replace its fleet of fighters with Swedish Gripen planes.

In the meantime, they can rely on the French to protect them: "Switzerland relies heavily on deals with its neighbours, especially France, to help police its airspace outside regular office hours. He explained that French fighters can escort a suspicious aircraft into Swiss airspace, "but there is no question of shooting it down. It's a question of national sovereignty."

Our sincerest condolences aside to any nation that relies on France to protect it from airborne attack, any and all aspiring European dictators with delusions of grandure and hopes of taking over the continent will surely want to know when they can land their entire airforce in the Swiss country unimpeded:

... the Swiss airforce is only available during office hours. These are reported to be from 8am until noon, then 1:30 to 5pm.

Then again, now that Switzerland has lost the one main industry that made the country the envy of the entire world, namely its banking industry which was a juggernaut during the "secrecy" years which are now over and done with, who really would bother invading some green alpine meadows and a few Milka cows?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
skwid vacuous's picture

At least they didn't scramble and fly 180 degrees in the wrong direction, I hear that happens sometimes

Leonardo Fibonacci2's picture

Fat Tony's swiss account could have been in danger, don't be surprised if he says

I don't get mad, i get stabby

NoDebt's picture

Hey, I just had an idea for Davos next year.  

freewolf7's picture

That explains why jets weren't scrambled in the US during 9/11--oh, wait.

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

No jet is scramble on 9/11 for maybe interfere with mission of demolition team effort.

General Decline's picture

""Switzerland cannot intervene because its airbases are closed at night and on the weekend," he said, adding: "It's a question of budget and staffing."

Here comes a big fat tax hike, Switzerland. It's for your SECURITY. If your not for this, the. you must be a terrorist.

johnQpublic's picture

It's a question of budget and staffing


a military on a non-infinite budget?

say it aint so

zaphod's picture

To be fair to the Swiss, they are surrounded by France and Italy so I wouldn't invest too much in a military either. Germany does need to be watched out for, but the US has had the largest military garrison ever stationed there for the past 70 years so the Swiss have nothing to worry about till the US goes broke and bails. 

Rafferty's picture

Though a small country Switzerland in approximately its current boders and Federal system has been extant for nearly 1,000 years. Invaders, even those from huge surrounding countries, invariably got their ass handed to them.  Part of the reason is that every Swiss citizen is personally well armed and well trained.  Oh, and the murder rate there is miniscule.

Arius's picture

YES - agreed! 

there are some pesky fighters those 18 swiss soldiers, that much so, that the rich trust them with their gold...none ever dares to mess with them, although, they are either italian, germans or french, together they form something unique almost unbreakable... go figure

one of those things that make you go hmm...

Dave's picture

It ain't just the gold. The art, the jewels, the antiques, anything else needing to be kept private is stored there by everybody who has something to store. The Swiss know where all the bodies are buried. Who would dare mess with them. Even the "real" PTB in the U.S. know better than that. Or they better know...

patb's picture

who'se going to invade.



max2205's picture

What the fuck is NATO doing?

knukles's picture

THey're on Summer vacation from August 1 to the following July 31

lordylord's picture

The US is pretty close to an infinite military budget, but that didn't help us on 9/11 when planes still crashed into the WTCs and the Pentagon.  Strange, unless they were supposed to do that.

ziggy59's picture


Seems peeps all over are asleep, no?

Dugald's picture


And only enough fuel to fly in Tuesdays......... 

A Nanny Moose's picture

Who needs F-18s and drones when your country has "well regulated militia" that has proven effective through two world wars?

TahoeBilly2012's picture

I used to party in Geneva and make wine near there. Boring as hell but pretty. Stick to the German speaking parts where things are only slightly more rambunctious. 

jsgibson's picture

I'm confused - are you guys talking about 2001 or 2012?

mjcOH1's picture

"Switzerland relies heavily on deals with its neighbours, especially France, to help police its airspace outside regular office hours."


Hope springs eternal.....

StychoKiller's picture

"Hope springs eternal...for cover!" -- Bob Hope on a Vietnam USO tour

Drifter's picture

"scrambled fighter jets - something that has become a staple when an airplane deviates even modestly from its course above the continental United States"

My first thought after reading that was "what about 9/11?".  3 commercial airline flights way the hell off flight plan over an hour, radio contact lost, and not one single fighter jet scrambled, due to some sort of "drill".

Absolute blatant in-your-face bullshit.

That's the first concrete proof it was all planned "high up in the system".

skwid vacuous's picture

Fighters WERE scrambled from Langley but they flew out over the Atlantic, and when the Pentagram got hit they were further away than when they took off... look it up.  Also fighters scrambled from Mass. bound for NYC but they only flew at around 35%-40% of top speed, saving some jet fuel i guess

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Is not strange Airforce hour of operation is match Banking Hour, Swiss military is belong to banker. Remember, all war is bankster war!

hot sauce technician's picture

Not all, but most. I can't believe there aren't people out there who'd kill for other reasons than money. Troy?

Oh regional Indian's picture

Fale narrative, misleading header.

Italian jets were scrambled. It is in the news from the start. Yes they have good deals going, templar HQ does. Of course they can afford the 9-5 air-force.


JeffB's picture

The header doesn't sound all that false to me, Oh regional Indian. Those French fighters weren't authorized to do anything other than fly along with them and observe:

French fighters can escort a suspicious aircraft into Swiss airspace, "but there is no question of shooting it down. It's a question of national sovereignty".

giggler321's picture

So French know when to come for the gold then - basically anytime outside of working hours.

TeMpTeK's picture

Non-interventionalism... the best sleep aid.

FieldingMellish's picture

I'd do it for the chocolate.

Ignatius's picture

The chocolate, yes.  That's an easy one.

I consider this 'Swiss system' to be more civilized.  Troops often agree to cease hostilities during Christmas, so why not regular office hours?  "Be careful at war, honey" I can hear the wives pleading as the men lace their boots and grab their lunch pales (M-F, 9-5 -- 1 hour lunch).  Of course certain civilities must be observed.  The Vietnamese, for instance, attacking during Tet.  A complete violation of decency and good manners.  Perhaps a good Soldiers Union is the answer.

Martel's picture

This is a non-issue. Which of the Swiss neighbours would attack it? Similarly, the Netherlands doesn't have any longer much need for heavy armor, hence they're quitting it altogether. The threat of external violence (the Soviet Union) is not credible any more. So, most probably in Western Europe we'll see a gradual development away from nation states, towards city states and autonomous regions.

Urban Redneck's picture

It's a non-issue because there is no need to scramble a Swiss fighter jet in order to shoot down an airplane.

Unfortunately, it will be probably be used as propaganda to drive the popular vote for wasting billions of taxpayer francs on new fighters from Sweden later this year (which of course would do nothing to actually alter the hours of operation for the Air Force).

Martel's picture

...wasting billions of taxpayer francs on new fighters from Sweden

Incidentally, Sweden does not have a 24/7 air defense, despite their geographical location being much more precarious than Switzerland's. I'd say Sweden needs to get back in shape militarily, Switzerland can afford to take it easy.

Spain, Portugal and Belgium could afford to be slackers as well. Given their geographic location and economic problems, it is folly to maintain anything more than basic self-defense stuff.

Element's picture

But who's the air or naval threat for Sweden? Would take time for a realistic threat to emerge. If they have the basic air force they can redevelop capability and readiness as needed. The French and Brits are always looking for training partners and Swedish hotties thereafter. A level of weapons and capability you won't need is a misallocation of resources that can have been building up the economy in much better ways, making for a bigger revenue base that can re-inject the funds needed, if it is likely to be needed.

Rafferty's picture

But who's the air or naval threat for Sweden?


The Axis Of Evil, dummy.

Element's picture

Pardon me, you're so right. lol

StychoKiller's picture

Get thee some binoculars for the Swedish Bikini Team drills... :>D

Martel's picture

But who's the air or naval threat for Sweden?

If you read the link I provided, you already know. Kaliningrad (Königsberg) still belongs to Russia, which makes the nearby Gotland interesting. Basically Sweden is nowadays a military vacuum, having downsized, scrapped and reorganized for two decades now. Until last summer or so, they had no military presence in Gotland. They brought back some tanks, but they don't have ammunition, spare parts or personnell there.

A war between Sweden and Russia is unlikely. But if Russia wanted to send a message to Sweden, it would not be difficult to beat the Swedish air force and navy in a short, sharp campaign. Sweden is not a member in Nato, so their situation during the conflict might resemble that of Georgian Republic in 2008. Lots of moral support from the West, but nothing concrete. When the threat emerges, it is way too late to start acquiring weapon systems. It takes years, and wars come as a surprise.

Element's picture

The lesson of Georgia seems to be to not allow Russian immigrant enclaves to do a fifth-column on you at a border crossing.

Sweden is not in NATO but that does not mean that NATO may not elect to pile-on, if requested to, if Russia ever tried that. On balance I think they probably would which is why the threat assessment may be very low, in Swedish eyes.

Look at it this way; how long would even a well-equipped small air force last, if Russia was serious? Three days? What could it really do? Gripen has poor range so needs the standoff weapon and targeting data so a drone. And they don't have a lot of payload so would not have a lot of punch. And they are not built for that anyway. They're really a light short-range point-defense interceptor for defeating attack aircraft. Maybe point defense GBADs can deter or defeat attack aircraft and missiles just as well, and cheaper, so need less fighters?

In the end its ground and naval warfare that will matter, so maybe more and better army and subs plus battlefield transports, plus GBAD may amount to a more effective defense spend. And isn't that roughly how they structure their main forces now?

When I hear anecdotes of a location not being defended I presume its part of the deception operations of that country, as it usually is. ;-)

IREN Colorado's picture

I remember hanging along side of scary aluminum dread-naughts sporting a stylish red star on their sides. When you are sitting out there on their wing you think about this stuff in terms that are quite stark. Allot of those aircraft are still wandering around the Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian borders today on training flights. Putin would love to bring back those bad old days. 

I don't want my grand kids up there over the North Sea playing those games. Best that the Swedes kit up for their own selves. Swiss too.


"This business is going to get out of control and we are going to be lucky to live through it!" -Admirnal Josh Painter, Hunt for Red October

Ignatius's picture

I upvoted just for your provacative lead line.

Black Forest's picture

Wer hat uns verraten? Sozialdemokraten!

AvoidingTaxation's picture

300 against 50000.

Somewhere in Greece 400 something BC