From the 24th of November to the 18th December 2020, a training exercise was carried out in Yorkshire with 40 pilots, 70 ground crew and 10 F/A-18 aircraft from the Swiss Air Force.

The exercise, dubbed ‘Yorknite’, was to train Swiss pilots on night flying exercises which are now crucially important for Switzerland’s air policing missions as they move to 24 hours a day, you can read more about the move at the link below.

Swiss Air Force to move to 24 hour availability

According to a statement from the Swiss military,

“The Swiss pilots and their British colleagues were able to practise flight manoeuvres over the North Sea during darkness, without night flight restrictions. For a fighter jet to take off, however, it needs not only a pilot but also trained ground personnel and skilled technicians; they ensure the aircraft are permanently ready for deployment. The Swiss team learnt from their British colleagues what matters most when flying at night.

Joint training exercises are based on an agreement between the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The Swiss Air Force would like to thank its British counterpart, the RAF, for this invaluable cooperation.”

According to Lieutenant Colonel Aldo Wicki of the Swiss Air Force:

“The four-week Yorknite exercise in North England is extremely important for the Swiss Air Force because it helps us to achieve international standards for modern aerial warfare at night. RAF Leeming provides excellent conditions for conducting basic night flying training and practising tactical night manoeuvres more effectively than in Switzerland. During the four-week exercise, the F/A-18 crews complete around 50% of their total annual night flying training. Thanks to this excellent training opportunity abroad, the Swiss Air Force is fully prepared with two armed F/A fighter jets for QRA air policing missions to protect Swiss airspace 24/7 from 2021. 

Switzerland is a small country and does not have the resources necessary for achieving international standards in modern aerial warfare on its own; we need to cooperate with competent partners who have the operational experience. It is particularly important for the Swiss Air Force to enhance and develop its skills and expertise with respect to interoperability and cooperation with other European partners, and to use joint exercises with other experienced air forces to review its own training programme. This what we call ‘benchmarking’, i.e. regularly testing our own knowledge and ability at international level with experienced partners and making improvements where necessary. Exercises like these also boost the credibility of the Swiss Air Force and the country’s defence capabilities.”

You can read more from the Swiss Air Force here.

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Swiss F/A-18C/D Hornet are unique in that rather than Aluminium they have Titanium main fuselage bulkheads to allow the type to meet a projected 30 year 5000+ hour service life.

Andy P

Guess it speaks volumes that they came to the UK for the training, its something we do well.


Hmm, wonder what the chances are of Switzerland selecting Typhoon as their new fighter and whether this cooperation with the RAF will increase it’s chances?

John Clark

I would imagine that’s the general idea, I would think the Gripen E would be the perfect choice (an excellent blend of capability and cost), the Swiss have similar requirements to the Swedes and Gripen E would really require no mods, it could happily enter service as is…

Should Typhoon be selected, it would probably require strengthened landing gear and structural elements to cope with the Swiss high rate of decent landings, unless of course, they are relaxing this requirement?


On cost and capability Gripen would appear to be a good fit given the Swiss are only likely to need to control their airspace and deal with civilian intrusions.

I’ve read however that the Swiss Air Force is pretty enamored with it’s twin-engine F18’s and is keen to acquire a similar capability.

F35 would be ridiculously high spec for their needs but presumably Rafale and Super Hornet will be in the running.

John Clark

True Challenger, I’m sure this will be much about what the Swiss air force want as the politics it’s wrapped up in.

The ‘obvious’ choice to people like us with an interest in such things and probably the Swiss air force is the Gripen E.

It’s an out of the box fit and perfectly capable of taking on all potential enemies!

Then political influence steps in………..


FYI Gripen is not in the running in the Swiss bid


Interesting – both Gripen and Superhornet are out. Germany is leading the Typhoon sales campaign and offering local assembly. RAF supporting on training. F35 is probably OTT. One would think Typhoon is in with strong chance here. Unless the French pull one of those Suspiciously Low Last Minute Offers


Wasn’t aware Gripen and Super Hornet aren’t in contention.

Agree that the offers of local assembly and support should make Typhoon attractive – and the German tranche 4 order can only reinforce confidence in it’s capabilities and longevity.

Can never be sure what dodgy antics the French will try though….

John Clark

The fact that Gripen is not being considered proves the old adage that all aircraft are subjected to four forces, Lift, Drag, thrust and politics!

Gripen E is an absolute no brainer, a perfect fit, it’s what I would be lobbying hard for if I was in Swiss procurement…

Instead, they will take a much more expensive aircraft and raise the price even more to meet Swiss requirements, typical bloody politicians!


I think it’s more the fact that it hasn’t flown yet. The Swiss are sticklers


Morning all and Happy New Year. Nice to hear that the excellent Swiss are training with the oldest and dare I say best Air Force in the world. Whilst they are as a nation the standard bearer for Neutrality, it is clear that their hearts are with us in the West 🙂

Supportive Bloke

Being neutral doesn’t mean you don’t want to defend yourself!

I agree this does underline the quality of UK forces training.


Hi SB. Agree even Neutrals have to defend themselves but what I meant is that they are not really Neutral in sentiment, only in the way they have chosen to remain unaligned in a conflict. I am amazed at how this policy has worked especially as with WW2 with Mr. Hitler generally having no respect for anything yet the Swiss remained unscathed. However an interesting question is-if Hitler had won WW2 would he have continued to allow Switzerlands Neutrality?


No, in a word. CH was going to be incorporated into the Reich, that was job one.


The Swiss only ever really look after themselves and it’s both surprising and impressive it’s worked so well for so long!

I don’t think their non-alignment is quite the mark of pacifism some take it to be as they were quite happy to take advantage of their neutrality in WW2 and continue to do so economically by being outside of the EU.

Hitler was keen to absorb Switzerland into The Reich and they had fairly detailed plans drawn up but of course events conspired to get in the way.


Like you say Challenger, neutrality does not equal pacifism. Look at Finland and Sweden, both neutral but both take self defence very seriously.

David Flandry

It would be convenient if attacks took place in good weather, daylight hours, heck, when supplies were good and moral high. Does not work that way.

john melling

Wonder if we made… “Swiss Cheese” out of the 10 F/A-18s ;P
Rubbish Christmas jokes aside it appears we have been doing some well-needed training and improvements to out Swiss allies.

Lee H

Morning All
Defence diplomacy and cooperation – HMG and RAF just quietly getting on with getting things done.
You will be telling me next that we are cooperating with the French Air Force….

It would be good to see what the Swiss choice for its F/A-18C/D is……

Barry Larking

I heard, and sometimes saw, S.A.F. Hunters zipping about in the mountains last century. They can certainly fly! Good work everyone.


I remember skiing trips to the Swiss alps and seeing Vampires flying around in the early 80s


I remember my French (from Annecy in the Alps) brother-in-law once remarking that the Swiss pilots were the most skilled since they flew around mountains the whole time. Obviously just in daylight, blue skies and with no weapons

Barry Larking

I am surprised that the Germans are leading the Typhoon sales effort. The Swiss must have changed their opinion of their northern neighbour. I was interested to learn how pro-British the Swiss were. I think like the Norwegians I have met they are grateful towards we Brits for some reason.