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Flieger- und Fliegerabwehr Truppen / Troupes d'Aviation Suisse / Truppe d'aviazone svizzere
Aviation and Antaircraft Troops
till 31-12-95
Schweizer Luftwaffe / Forces Aériennes Suisse / Forze aeree svizzere
Swiss Air Force
- from 01-01-96

    Credit:  Roundels of the world
Roundel
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Details written in blue without underline are subject to confirmation
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Cold war structure

Swiss military aviation - Aviation troops - Fliegertruppen/Troupes d'Aviation/Truppe d'aviazione - was part of the Army till 31-12-95. It was divided into a professional and a militia structure.
Squadrons (Fliegerstaffel/Escadrille d'Aviation) were manned by pilots only, they didn't own aircraft. Professional pilots pilots were grouped for administrative purpose under the
Surveillance Wing (Überwachungsgeschwader/Escadre de Surveillance); militia Squadrons were manned by reserve pilots only. Both, professional and militia Squadrons, were to be put under the orders of geograpically distributed Aviation Regiments (Fliegerregiment/Régiment Aviation) during an emergency time.

Operational airports were run by the Federal Office of Military airports (Bundesamt für Militärflugplätze/
Office fédéral des aérodromes militaires/Ufficio federale degli aerodromi militari) till 31-12-95. Local airport unit was the Air Base Section (Flugplatzabteilung).

Aircrafts were available during the whole of the year as needed for individual training of each professional and militia pilot at active air bases; they were rotated between flying operation and operational storage to keep an even number of flying hours for the whole fleet and were transferred (if necessary) to the Squadron's war-time base during the yearly pilots and ground personnel rehearsal courses (Wiederholungskurs/Cours de Répétion) and, of course, during emergency times.
   Bases were maintained by a civilian professional
   operation/maintenance organisation -
   Federal Office for Airports
(
Bundesamt
   für Militärflugplätze/
Office fédéral des
  
aérodromes militaires till 31-12-95.
   
Federal Office for Air Force Plants (Bundesamt für
   Betriebe der Luftwaffe from 01-01-96).

   Active bases used by Northrop F-5s were 
Payerne,
  
 Dübendorf, Meiringen, Buochs, Sion, Alpnach;
   wartime bases were Turtmann, Interlaken, Mollis.

Command Structure
Command strurcture was composed of Aviation Regiments (Fiegerregiment/Régiment d'Aviation) with attached mixed fighter, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance units.

In 1980 there were following Tiger equipped Aviation Squadrons, each with 12 aircrafts plus 1 or 2 reserves, grouped as follows:
Northrop F-5E 
 - Aviation Regiment 1       - Squadron 18           - Payerne AB
                      - Aviation 
Regiment 4       - Squadron 6             - Sion AB
                      - Aviation 
Regiment 6       - Squadron 1             - Turtmann AB
                      - Aviation Regiment 9       - Squadron 11 and 19 - Alpnach AB
                      - Aviation Regiment 13     - Squadron 8  and 13  - Meiringen AB
Northrop F-5F  - Headquarters Aviation Brigade 31 - Squadron 14 - Dübendorf AB

A reorganisation in 1990 regrouped all Squadrons into four Regiments according to their speciality:
               Aviation Regiment 1 for reconnaissance fighters (Mirage IIRS)
               Aviation Regiment 2 (Mirage IIIS, F-5E) for air defence fighters

               Aviation Regiment 3 for fighter-bombers (Hunter)
               Aviation Regiment 4 for air transport helicopters (Alouette III, Super Puma).

Post cold war reorganisation
The Aviation Troops became a separate organisation - Luftwaffe - under the first post cold war reorganisation, the "Armed Forces Reform 95 (Armée 95)", effective 01-01-96.

Squadrons
(Fliegerstaffel/Escadrille d'Aviation) had still no own aircraft; they remained formed by pilots.

No Tiger Squadron was provisionally disbanded at the time; Aviation Regiments were replaced by Aviation Wings (Fliegergeschwader/Escadre d'Aviation); the Surveillance Wing was reorganised on 01-01-06 into the Professional Airmen Corps (Berufsfliegerkorps/Corps des Aviateurs Professionnels).

Surveillance Wing professional pilots manned Squadrons 8 and 11 remained based at Dübendorf AB during peace-time and Squadron 1 at Payerne AB; Tiger conversion took place on Northrop F-5F.

Operation of military airports was handed over to the new Air Force Logistics Command (Bundesamt für Betriebe der Luftwaffe/Office Fédéral des exploitations des Forces aériennes) from 01-01-96.

Wartime stationing was foreseen as follows:
               Aviation Wing   1 : Payerne AB     - Squadron 13
               Aviation Wing   3 : Turtmann AB   - Squadrons 1 and 6
               Aviation Wing   4 : Sion AB          - Squadron 18
               Aviation Wing 11 : Mollis AB        - Squadron 19
               Aviation Wing 13 : Meiringen AB   - Squadrons 8 and 11


Most important change was the re-equipment by the late 90's of 
two Squadrons (Nr 11 and 18) with McDonnell F/A-18s.

A second, deeper, restructuration
under the "Armée XXI" name took place on 01-01-04. It saw the reduction of active jet fighters bases to three, closure of all wartime bases, the disbandment of Aviation Wing 1, 3 and 4 and of Aviation Squadron 1 (professional pilots only flying McConnell F-18s as fighters) and the creation of Air Base Commands to which the Squadrons were assigned.
Only one militia Tiger Squadron (
combined with one McDonnell F/A-18 equipped Squadron) remained assigned to each of the three Air Base Commands:
              
Air Base Command 11 : Payerne AB    - Squadron 6
              
Air Base Command 13 : Meiringen AB  - Squadron 8
              Air Base Command 14 : Sion AB         - Squadron 19, Headquarters only at Payerne AB, operations from Sion AB
Some bases were kept as "sleeping" bases,  like Buochs.

==============================================================
 
HISTORY OF NORTHROP F-5 EQUIPPED SQUADRONS


Handover of sufficent Northrop F-5s from the first batch enabled the start of pilots' conversion from Hawker Hunter Mk.58, after having received an air-to-air combat course on the "old" fighter, starting with two full time pilots units. Official ceremony for their handover to the troops took place at Meiringen AB on 30-10-79.

Militia units followed, two with aircrafts from the first and three from the second batch. Individual militia pilots training (eight days per year) were flown from peacetime bases (Dübendorf AB, Payerne AB, Meiringen AB, Sion AB plus Emmen AB) while refresher courses (also for ground crews) took place where the Squadrons were to be based in case of war.

Aviation Squadron 1   /  Fiegerstaffel 1 - Initially a militia pilots unit, later a professional pilots unit.


    
        
   Official badge           Painted on aircraft nose

The unit, originally manned by reservists, equipped with Hawker Hunter Mk.58/58A, changed to a full time unit and moved in 1984 from Raron AB to its new, wartime base, Turtmann AB, in order to convert from to the Northrop F-5E. Ground-attack duty was changed to air-to-air combat with the arrival of the new fighter. Peacetime training base was Dübendorf AB.

By 1990 it was attached to the Aviation Regiment 6 together with Squadron 21 flying Hawker Hunter Mk58/58A.
              

The Squadron participated to the 1992/1993 tests with bombs and AGM-65B Maverick in order to operate the Tiger in ground attack as a secondary role.

Its main role was at the end of the '90s to train young pilots on fast jets, preparing them for the transition to the McDonnell F/A18.

             Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5E J-3063 seen on 03-10-08; badges were worn for a long time after the units disbandment

Turtmann AB was closed on 14-03-03 and Squadron 1 was officially disbanded at the end of the year. It was the last Swiss full-time pilots unit flying Tigers.

 Photo: Joop de Groot
Rarely seen Squadron 1 badge on Northrop J-3210 at Dübendorf AB on 25-08-89 with red underbelly
tank and red wingtip Sidewinder.

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Aviation Squadron 6 / Escadrille d'aviation 6  -  Militia pilots unit

                           
           Official badge -   Painted on nose  -  Low visibility, behind cabin

It is one of the three remaining Northrop F-5E reserve unit, together with Squadron 8 and 19.

Only Tiger unit crewed mainly by French-speaking pilots it started conversion from Hawker Hunter Mk.58 in 1983 in Sion AB.

By 1990 it was attached to the Aviation Regiment 4 together with a detachment of Mirage IIIRS of Squadron 10 until its 1994 refresher course, moving to Turtmann AB in 1995; in the year 2000 it was attached to the Aviation Wing 11
.

Closure of Turtmann AB on 14-03-03 meant relocation to Payerne AB (only as administrative Headquarters and for the annual rehearsal course) under the Aviation Wing 11; it is often deployed to other bases for training periods.

Nine F-5E with pilots of the Squadron participated to an exercise involving McDonnel Douglas F-18Cs and French Mirage 2000s at the end of November 2005.

The 6ème Escadrille protected during its 2007 and 2011 rehearsal courses the no-fly zone around the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, being based at Sion AB.

 Photo: Swiss AF
This photo shows two active Sidewinders armed F-5E flown by Squadron 6 pilots, in  company of an Aviation
Squadron 18 McConnell F/A-18C, on one of the WEFs area protection training flights.

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       Aviation Squadron 8  / Fiegerstaffel 8  Vandalo  -  Militia pilots unit
 Official badge       
Painted on nose

It is one of the three remaining Northrop F-5E reserve/militia units, together with Squadron 6 and 19.

Formerly Hawker Hunter Mk.58/58A equipped, it started its Tiger training on 22-08-80 at Payerne AB; was peace- and wartime based at Meiringen AB, part of Aviation Regiment 13, with an area protection/policing task.

The unit participated to the exercice "Tatauto" on 24-03-82; Tigers landed on the emergency highway strip near Münsingen.

Unsuccessful Tiger fighter-bomber trials in 1992/1993 were flown by its pilots, but the Squadron kept ground attack with cannons as secondary task. Its pilots participated to Norka 91 and Norka 94 exercises at RAF Waddington (UK).

The Squadron reports since 01-11-97 (part the first Air Force reorganisation) to the Flugplatzkommando 13 (Air Base Comand 13)/Fliegergeschwader 13 (Air Wing 13) at Meiringen AB together with Fliegerstaffel 11 (Air Squadron 11).

   Photo: Tom Brinckman
     Northrop F-5E J-3047 seen landing at Meiringen AB on 27-04-04


A capacity demonstration in air-to-ground cannon firings by 8 aircraft was shown at the Axalp range in October 2002/06/07/08/09 and 2010.
 
The year 2005 saw the start of another important operation, flying from its home base Meiringen, during the January yearly refresher course: no-fly area enforcement for the WEF meeting at Davos repeated in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014

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Aviation Squadron 11 / Fiegerstaffel 11    -  Professional pilots unit
First version:                                                    Second version:
             
Official badge  /  Painted on aircrafts   -  Official badge  /  Painted on aircrafts
Peace-time based at Dübendorf, it followed Squadron 18 in July 1979 as the second unit to re-equip from Hawker Hunter Mk.58/58A to the Northrop F-5E; combat ready status was officially declared on 30-10-79. Each of its pilots had flown an average of 80 hours by end 1979.
Its wartime base was Alpnach AB, attached to Aviation Regiment 9 together with Squadron 19, till 1994 when, in 1995,  it was changed to Meiringen AB due to closure of Alpnach AB for jets.
An unusual exercise took place on 24-03-82, when its pilots landed Tigers the emergency highway strip near Münsingen.


   Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5Es lined up at Dübendorf on 28-08-83, still with black nose and first version badge.

Photo: unknown    
                          Northrop F-5E J-3092 seen at Sion AB on 28-10-04 with second version badge.

The Squadron remained based at Meiringen AB, with training detachments at Dübendorf AB, transitioning in 1999 to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D.

It has been honorary member of the NATO Tiger association since 1981, becoming full member on 31-08-04.
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    Aviation Target Squadron 12Zielflugstaffel 12  -  Professional ECM operators
Official badge

The Dübendorf AB based unit replaced Electronic Warfare Squadron 24, disbanded end 1994 due to withdrawal from use of Hawker Hunter T.68 two-seaters, inheritied ECM training duties and later target tow duties.
Three Northop F-5E, modified to tow the Saab MBV-2S Dart Target underbelly for live air-to-air cannons shooting, were introduced in mid 1997an additional three Northrop F-5F were intoduced for ECM training from 1998. Both types augmented Pilatus PC-9s which were already used both for Target Towing and for ECM training in favour of Army anti- aircraft artillery units.

The unit stopped using Northrop F-5E/F-5Fs in 1999, ECM training duties being handed over to Training Squadron 16.
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           Aviation Squadron 13Fiegerstaffel 13  Eagle  -  Militia pilots unit
Official badge       Painted on nose
   
Crewed by German speaking pilots it was Meiringen AB wartime based when its pilots converted from de Havilland Venom Mk.4 fighter-bombers to Tiger fighters in 1984.

It participated on 15-10-85 to the second edition of exercise "Tauto" on the highway strip near Flums.

Peacetime attachment in 1990 was the Aviation Regiment 13 at Meiringen AB in company with the Squadron 8, also flying the Northrop F-5E.

The Squadron moved to Payerne AB in 1995 but was disbanded after its last rehearsal course (24-03 till 04-04-03), held at Meiringen AB.

  Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5E J-3075 entering its protected hangarette at Turtmann AB on 15-04-02
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    Training Squadron 16Ausbildungstaffel 16   -  Militia pilots unit/professional ECM operators
Official badge

Formerly equipped with GAMD Mirage IIIS it received new tasks after the year 1999, when these fighters were retired.
Based at Payerne AB it was responsible for Initial Jet Training, Target Towing, Electronic Warfare and Dissimilar Air Combat Training
for local McDonnell F/A-18 pilots with Northrop F-5F from 2000 till the end of 2007, when it was disestablished.  Strangely, Northrop F-5F J-3210 has the badge of the Air Force Electonic Warfare Group painted on the nose since at least 2001; ECM training duties have been transferred to the Air Force Electronic Warfare Group earlier: see below.
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     Air Force Electronic Warfare Group -  Professional ECM operators
Official badge          Painted on F-5F nose
Confirmed details of
ECM operators' Squadron history are not available; two-seater Tigers are still flying with ECM equipment under the wings.

   Photo: Don Corleone
the Northrop F-5F J-3210 with Vista 5 ECM underwing and wing-tip ACMI pod at Payerne AB on 27-04-10 . Of note under-cockpit 12 Squadron Badgea long time after the unit was disbanded.
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        Aviation Squadron 18 / Fiegerstaffel 18  -  Professional pilots unit
Official badge    
Painted on nose

This was the first unit to convert on Tigers; the first Swiss produced Northrop F-5E landed at Payerne AB, its home base, on 24-01-79 to start the conversion of eight of fourteen pilots and four instructors of this unit; conversion started on 26-02-79 and was completed end May 1979. The Squadron was declared officially combat ready on 30-10-79. Each of its pilots had flown an average of 105 hours by the end of 1979.

Detachments were operated from Sion AB for training duties, while pilots participated to an unusual exercise near Münsingen when they landed on an emergency highway strip on 24-03-82.

It was attached in 1990 to the Aviation Regiment 2 at Payerne together with Mirage IIIS equipped Squadron 17 and a detachment of Mirage IIIRS of the Squadron 17.

Photo: unknown    
                          Northrop F-5E J-3006 at Emmen in May 1993 showing the Squadron 18 badge

Five McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C were incorporated in spring 1998, meaning the end of Tiger operation.
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        Aviation Squadron 19 / Fiegerstaffel 19   /  Militia pilots unit
  Official badge    Painted on nose

It is one of the three remaining Northrop F-5E reserve unit, together with Squadron 6 and 8.

First non-professional pilots Squadron based at Alpnach AB in a four weeks lasting course. Its pilots  srtarted conversion from Hakwer Hunter Mk.58 in April 1980; there were 14 pilots and 4 pilot-instructors. It reported to the Aviation Regiment 9 at Alpnach AB, together with Squadron 13 also flying the Northrop F-5E.

P
ilots of the Squadron have participated to SAKA operations at Decimomannu AB (Italy) in 1985 and 1989.

The unit was transferred to Mollis AB in 1995 (reporting to Aviation Wing 11) upon closure to jet operations at Alpnach AB end of 1999 and transferred to Buochs AB in 2000 upon closure of this base.

                  Photo: Joop de Groop
The last Swiss Northrop F-5E, with Squadron 19 badge on the right side, seen at Mollis AB on 23-09-98.

Status of Buochs AB was changed to "sleeping base" in March 2003 and the Squadron's Headquarter was transferred to Payerne AB in 2004 for peace-time duties but deploys to Sion AB for operational and wartime purposes, reporting to Aviation Wing 14. Here they hold their first rehealsal course (11th till 29-10-04) in conjunction with McConnell F/A-18 of the Aviation Squadron 18.

Onboard Eelectronic Warfare operators were attached to the unit during the rehearsal courses 1997/98, allowing the use of Northrop F-5F for ECM duties by this unit.

The 2005 rehearsal course was in preparation for its new task: airspace protection over the
World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

Finally, the 2006 rehearsal course was utilised mainly in protection of the WEF from Sion AB between January 16th and February 3rd. The Squadron was entrusted with the same task during the 2009 edition of the Forum, between 21-01-09 and 01-02-09, and in 2012, between 25-01-12 till 29-01-12.

 
The Squadron commemorated its seventy fifth anniversary in June 2013 with a special tail painting, seen here, on Northrop F-5E J-3038 together with two unmarked arcrafts.
                                                                                                                                                                       
 Photo: Swiss Air Force

At Wiederholungskurs 2018 Squadron
(Repetition course 2015) 9 Northrop F-5E were seen (amongst which two Patrouille Suisse coloured) and 1 Northrop F-5F
used as a single-seater.
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              Patrouille Suisse  -  Professional pilots unit  

 Official badge    
Name painted behind the cockpit

An unofficial acrobatic team had operated for a number of years as a two/three-ship F-5E team on an ad-hoc basis, performing for example at RAF Fairford meeting in 1991 as "Heidi Pair" with three aircrafts, unfortunately without special markings.
                          
The official team "Patrouille Suisse" had operated Hawker Hunter Mk.58 aircrafts until retirement of the venerable fighter; the Northrop F-5E was chosen as a successor starting from 1995. Twelve aircrafts received a special red/white colour scheme but only six were/are operated at a time, while a smoke unit was also built in 1997 in the airframes.

Acrobatic pilots training started in March 1995, first exhibition at an airshow was on 10-06-95 abroad, at San Javier AB   (Spain).

Based at Emmen AB its role is to promote Switzerland and its Air Force domestically and internationally. Pilots fly with the team as a "second job".

                      Photo: RUAG
                    In-flight view of three Patrouille Suisse aircrafts; of note the unusual grey nose.

The team celebrated its 35/40/45 years of existence, respectively on 22-08-99, 22-08-0422-08-09
by painting the years of 
existence behind the cockpit of the Tigers, replacing the inscription "patrouille suisse".

         
                                               
     
Patrouille Suisse exhibited with great success till now at air-shows in Austria (2000/03/05/11), Belgium (1996/2000/06/09), Denmark (1996/2007/12), Finland (2012), France (1995/96/99/2000/08/09), Germany (2002/04/06/08/09/10), Hungary (2010), Ireland (2015), Italy (1995/99/2000), the Netherlands (1996/99/2006), Norway (2009/2012), Poland (2011), Spain (1995/2005/06), UK (1995/96/99/2000/04/06/07/08/12/14).

Unfortunately the life of the team is menaced, due to the withdrawal from use of the Northopr F-5E and to budget savings.
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   Group for armament services - Flighttests / Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste (GRD) - Flugversuche
This was the Swiss Air Force Research and Development Test Unit (a civilian organisation), based at Emmen AB.
It participated intensively to the selection programm of the Northrop F-5 both in USA and in Switzerland; four pilots of the group had converted to the Northrop F-5 to conduct trials by end of 1979.

One single-seater (J-3001) was constantly at its disposal till 1998, when it was trans transferred to operational duties; serial J-3097 has also been operated.





Northrop F-5E J-3001 testing application of four AIM-9 Sidewinder underwings and on wingtips.


Photo: Eidgenössische Flugzeugwerk-Emmen (F+W Emmen)














  Photo: F+W Emmen
Shown above is one of several other trials - here probably testing an unknown target; of note underbelly camera.

Later it tested modifications for the use of Electronic Warfare systems, Maverick air-to-ground missile, a smoke generating system for the Patrouille Suisse, a different target as well as several other systems.

                    
Photo: Samuel Berger
  
Northrop F-5E J-3001 taxies back in Meiringen with underbelly Saab MBV-2S target in Februar 1997.

   Photo: unknown
The second trials aircraft (J-3097) seen at Emmen AB in a heavy loads test configuration: four underwings pylons,
three 275 gallons tanks and red anti-collision Sidewinders on wingtips.

The Group, following restructuration of all Swiss defence agencies, was reorganised and renamed Armasuisse Aeronautical Systems as of 01-01-05. It acts as the procurement organisation at present responsible for the selection/introduction of a Tiger replacement.
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