Murphy's Law: Older Is Better?

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August 6, 2008: Swiss pacifists have been trying to use their countries plebiscite system to get their armed forces abolished. When put to a vote, this has not worked. But recent opinion surveys have shown that, while, 70 percent of voters believe the country needs an army, and 78 percent believe the army is prepared to meet current threats, 65 percent oppose replacing the 56 F-5 fighter-bombers with new aircraft. The F-5s are 1960s era U.S. aircraft, which Switzerland has been using since the 1970s. It's a 12 ton fighter roughly similar to the MiG-21. Normally it is armed with two 20mm cannon, and three tons of missiles and bombs. The Swiss want to replace their F-5s, in two years, with a few dozen more expensive (as in over $50 million each) modern aircraft. Most Swiss believe the old F-5s, mostly used for ground attack, are doing just fine.

For the last six years, Switzerland has been reorganizing its military, reducing it from 355,000 to only 199,000. This will be completed in two years, along with a long overdue upgrading of weapons and equipment. This, however, has created several disputes over whether the newer stuff is really better. It definitely is cheaper, and that may be the main concern of the traditionally parsimonious Swiss.

 


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