Switzerland’s Hornet Upgrade 25 Program
Until and unless new fighters arrive, Switzerland is depending more and more heavily on its 33 Swiss Luftwaffe F/A-18C/D fighters (26 F/A-18Cs, 7 F/A-18D 2-seat), in order to handle air sovereignty and policing over the nation.
In order to keep them up to date, programs like “Upgrade 21” and “Upgrade 25” continue to add to their capabilities. Upgrade 21 included a successful trip to the USA, which allowed them to use American weapon ranges to test the integration of their new AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles with their existing Hornet fleet. Those will go well with Switzerland’s JHMCS helmet-mounted sights, which were also part of Upgrade 21. A December 2007 request to the US DSCA placed the total potential cost of Upgrade 25 Phase 1 at over $500 million. The Upgrade 25 request, subsequent political developments, and follow-on contracts include:
Switzerland’s Upgrade 25
Phase 2 of Switzerlan’d “Upgrade 21” program involved the purchase of JHMCS helmet-mounted displays, the addition of “Link 16” datalinks, plus launcher rail and software upgrades that allow the addition of new weapons like the AIM-9X sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile.
Now, the Swiss F/A-18 Hornets are undergoing a modification program called Upgrade 25. It includes a new electronic countermeasures defensive system (Raytheon’s ALR-67v3), new cockpit displays, an upgraded digital recorder, Raytheon’s ASQ-228 ATFLIR advanced targeting pods, an upgraded GPS, armament computer memory upgrades. Follow-on fleet upgrades include more cockpit and avionics improvements, and upgrades to the mission data system through the purchase of the Joint Mission Planning System.
The ATFLIR pods add precision strike capabilities to the aircraft, including laser designation and GPS coordinate designation. ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles, and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet. Making them work requires more than just bolting on a pod, though. The cockpit’s avionics and systems must be upgraded to accept, display, and pass on those inputs. Once that’s all done, a Hornet pilot can use the pod to search for targets, then have the pod either mark it with a coded frequency laser designator that’s passed on to its laser-guided weapons, or pass GPS coordinates on to GPS guided weapons carried by the Hornet.
The AN/ALR-67v3 is the standard Radar Warning Receiver system for Super Hornet family fighters, and also equips some F/A-18 Hornets: Canada and Switzerland both operate it on earlier-generation F/A-18 Hornets, and Australia operates both Hornets and Super Hornets. It’s actually more like mission central for defensive systems. It doesn’t just alert the pilot(s) that enemy radars are targeting the fighter; it provide accurate identification, lethality, and azimuth displays of both hostile and friendly emitters. In its spare time, it controls the electronic warfare data bus, and interfaces with electronic warfare systems, the onboard radar, the airborne mission computer, and the F/A-18 weapon systems. It’s the first deployed radar warning receiver to combine a fully channelized digital receiver architecture with the power of dual processors.
RUAG Aerospace in Emmen is Boeing’s partner. They’ve been honored as a Boeing supplier of the year for their work as the main source for F/A-18C/D wedges and related parts used at Boeing’s Structural Repair Facility in Mesa, AZ, USA.
Contracts & Key Events
Note that basic maintenance and support contracts for Switzerland’s F/A-18 fleet are covered elsewhere.
2011 – 2013
Work will be performed in Emmen, Switzerland (96%) and St. Louis, MO (4%), and is expected to be complete in March 2016. All contract funds are committed, and will be managed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River MD, on behalf of their FMS client (N00019-11-G-0001).
Nov 16/12: ALR-67. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA receives a $23.2 firm-fixed-price contract modification for ECM gear. The U.S. Navy is buying another 26 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers ($22.1M/ 95.5%), and Switzerland is buying 4 of the system’s countermeasure signal processor weapons replacement assemblies ($1.0M/ 4.5%).
April 21/11: ALR-67. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA receives an $84.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 87 Full Rate Production Lot 13 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers for the U.S. Navy (77/ $72.1M/ 85%) and the government of Switzerland (10/ $9.4M/ 11%). In addition, this option provides for the procurement of ALR-67 weapons replaceable assemblies for the governments of Canada ($2.5M/ 3%) and Australia ($762,842/ 1%).
Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (41%); Lansdale, PA (18%); Forest, MS (12%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); San Diego, CA (10%); Sydney, Australia (4%); Milwaukie, OR (2%); and McKinney, TX (2%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2013. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract. See also Raytheon release.
2009 – 2010
Dec 27/10: Retrofits. A $66.2 million firm-fixed-price delivery order under the basic ordering agreement for weapon replaceable assemblies and other complex parts used in retrofitting F/A-18C/D aircraft for the governments of Finland (62/ $44.6M/ 67%), and Switzerland (33/ $21.6M/ 33%).
Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, IA (44.8%); St. Louis, MO (26.8%); Fort Worth, TX (14.9%); Oakland, NJ (6.4%); Grand Rapids, MI (3.3%); Butler, NJ (1.3%); Sylmar, CA (1%); Killdeer, ND (0.5%); Mesa, AZ (0.4%); El Segundo, CA (0.3%); Wallingford, CT (0.2%); and Horsham, PA (0.1%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract on behalf of these Foreign Military Sale clients (N00019-11-G-0001).
Aug 27/10: With all of the contender evaluations done, Switzerland suspends the competition for its F-5 replacement program, leaving the F/A-18s as their front line fighters for a longer period. Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer confirms earlier rumors, saying that the defense and finance departments will work together and create a set of requirements for a purchase by 2015.
With respects to the Swiss evaluation process, the minister claims that the actual cost of replacing 22 F-5s would reach an estimated CHF 3.5 to 5.0 billion (EUR 2.7-3.8 billion, or $3.4-4.8 billion), between 50-100% more than the advertised budget. So far, the Swiss firm RUAG, who currently maintains the F/A-18 Hornet and F-5E/F fleets, is the only winner in this competition. defpro | Space Mart | Flight International.
July 20/09: ATFLIR. Raytheon Co. in El Segundo, CA receives a $41.8 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0301) for 14 full rate production ATFLIR reconnaissance and targeting pods and associated spares for the Swiss F/A-18 Program. This brings total announced Swiss ATFLIR orders to 15 (q.v. May 23/08 entry).
Work will be performed in McKinney, TX (80%) and El Segundo, CA (20%), and is expected to be complete in February 2011. The US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract on behalf of the Swiss government. See also Raytheon’s Sept 21/09 release.
June 26/09: U25 Support. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, MO received an $18.2 million contract against a previously issued basic ordering agreement “for the design, integration and installation for a C-model and D-model Swiss F/A-18 aircraft for the Government of Switzerland under the foreign military sales program. In addition, this effort includes Upgrade 25 Familiarization, Engineering and O-Level Maintenance training.”
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (60%) and Emmen, Switzerland (40%), and is expected to be complete in March 2013. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract on behalf of the Swiss government (N00019-05-G-0026).
May 1/09: ALR-67s. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA received an $83.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for LOT 11 full-rate-production of 94 AN/ALR-67v3 Radar Warning Receiver defensive systems that equip F/A-18 Hornet family aircraft. Customer include the U.S. Navy (43 for $35.8 million; 43%) and the Governments of Canada, (26 for $22.3 million; 27%), Australia (19 for $13.4 million; 16%), and Switzerland (5 for $12.1 million; 14%), including supplies and services.
Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (41%); Lansdale, PA (18%); Forest, MS (12%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); San Diego, CA (10%); Sydney, Australia, (4%); Milwaukie, OR (2%); and McKinney, TX (2%), and is expected to be complete in February 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD, as Raytheon is the sole manufacturer of these systems (N00019-09-C-0052).
Feb 27/09: ALR-67s. Raytheon Co., Electronic Warfare Operations in Goleta, CA received a $9.9 million cost plus fixed fee contract for products and engineering services in support of the AN/ALR-67v3 operational flight programs for US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets ($5.4 million, 55%) and the F/A-18 A-D and E/F aircraft owned by the Governments of Canada ($1.5 million, 15%), Australia ($1.5 million, 15%), and Switzerland ($1.5 million, 15%). The estimated level of effort for this contract is 57,686 man-hours.
Work will be performed Goleta, CA (80%) and Point Mugu, CA (10%); and China Lake, CA (10%), and is expected to be complete in February 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $1.15 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA (N68936-09-C-0029).
2006 – 2008
Upgrade request; parliamentary approval.
Dec 17/08: The Swiss Standerat approves the defense program, including Hornet modernization. Armasuisse release [in German].
Sept 25/08: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a $20.1 million modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-04-D-0015) for new cockpit display suites on behalf of Switzerland and Finland. These suites will be used as lab assets for the design and development of a new cockpit display associated with both countries’ F/A-18C/D upgrade programs. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2011. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) manages the contract.
Sept 24/08: The Swiss House of Representatives rejects the PA08 program, dealing a political blow to defence minister Samuel Schmid, and a program blow to F/A-18 modernization. Switzerland’s Council of States upper house (Standerat) will vote on it again in December 2008.
The problem is Swiss party politics. While the left-wing Greens and Social-Democrats are reliably opposed to such measures, the right-wing People’s Party (SVP) has threatened to veto and block all new arms expenditures. Samuel Schmid’s personal break with the SVP appears to be paying negative dividends; without SVP support, the centre-right Radicals and Christian Democrats lack the required votes. ISN analysis | Swiss Info story.
Sept 22/08: The Swiss Federal Council announces approval of the country’s SFR 917 million Armaments Program 2008 (PA 08). Within that program, SFR 404 million is earmarked to maintaining and upgrading Switzerland’s 33 F/A-18C/D fighters.
“[the fleet] must be prepared for the second part of its 30-year service life… to reduce costs, their modernization will be undertaken in parallel with those of other countries. However, because of cost issues, Swiss F/A-18s will not equipped for air-to-ground missions, nor for aerial reconnaissance.”
This seems to imply that the reconnaissance and targeting pods will not be part of the upgrades.
May 23/08: A DefenseLINK release confirms 1 ATFLIR pod to Switzerland.
Aug 22/08: Raytheon Co. in Goleta, CA received a $13.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0008) for 174 AN/ALR-67v3 Enhanced Integrated Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receivers and 173 AN/ALR-67v3 Enhanced Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receiver Systems in support of the Canadian Forces for the F/A-18 A/B aircraft; and 6 Integrated Microwave Integrated Circuits in support of the Swiss Army Armasuisse for its F/A-18 C/D aircraft.
This contract combines purchases for the Government of Canada ($13.6 million; 99%) and the Government of Switzerland, ($114,526; 1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Lansdale, PA (75%) and El Segundo, CA (25%), and is expected to be complete in March 2011.
March 27/08: Raytheon Co. Electronics Systems in Goleta, CA received an $11.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0123), exercising an option for the full-rate-production of 14 Lot 10 AN/ALR-67v3 Radar Warning Receivers to support F/A-18 legacy aircraft programs for the Canadian Air Force (13, $10.8 million; 92%) and the Swiss Air Force (1, $834,426; 7%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.
Work will be performed in Forest, MS (46%); Goleta, CA (14%); Lansdale, PA (10%); Brisbane, Australia (9%); Chatsworth, CA (7%); El Segundo, CA (7%); McKinney, TX (4%); and Portland, OR (3%), and is expected to be complete in June 2011.
20 AN/ASQ-228Av Advanced Tactical Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) advanced surveillance and targeting pods. These add precision strike capabilities to the aircraft, including laser designation and GPS coordinate designation. ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet. Associated work will involve improvements to the planes’ cockpit display systems, image capture, handling, transmit, and receipt capability, Global Positioning System (GPS), and voice/data/video recording.
44 AN/ALR-67v3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets. These systems provide warning of hostile radars targeting the aircraft, and deploy countermeasures. This is the latest version, which is also fielded on the F/A18 E/F Super Hornets.
Also included: engineering change proposals, system integration and testing, software development, integration, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering support services, and other related elements of logistics and program management support.
Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives in-country. However, it is estimated that 20 U.S. Government and 20 contractor representatives will participate in program management and technical reviews in-country for one-week intervals twice annually. The principal contractors will be:
- The Boeing Company of St. Louis, MO (F/A-18 prime)
- Raytheon Corporation of Goleta, California (ALR-67v3)
- Raytheon Corporation of El Segundo, California (ATFLIR)
- Northrop Grumman Corporation of Rolling Meadows, IL (LITENING AT, among other things)
- Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems of Archbald, Pennsylvania
The 2006 DSCA release added that “Aircraft modifications will include integration of the AN/AAQ-228 LITENING Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) Pod.” It was not clear whether this is a mistaken reference that meant the AAQ-228 ATFLIR pod, or a reference to integrating the AN/AAQ-28 LITENING pod as well. Neither presents a technical issue, as both pods have been integrated on F/A-18C/D Hornet aircraft before. Subsequent orders make it apparent that Switzerland has chosen the ATFLIR pod.
Dec 13/07: AIM-9X. A Swiss F/A-18C returns to Switzerland after a 9-month trip to the USA. The aircraft fired 14 AIM-9X sidewinder and AIM-120B AMRAAM air-air missiles at targets flying over China Lake, CA and White Sands, NM.