Swiss F/A-18s Practice Highway Operations During ‘Alpha One’ Exercise | Aviation

One of the Hornets of the Swiss Air Force caught by an autovelox (Image credit: Militärpolizei)

For the first time in three decades, the Swiss Air Force operated fighter jets from a highway, and the operations were also broadcast live on TV.

On Jun. 5, 2024, the Swiss Air Force executed the pre-announced “Alpha One” exercise, with four F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets landing on the A1 motorway between Payerne and Avanches. This is the first time in more than 30 years, as the last time was in 1991 when Hunters and F-5s landed on the A2 motorway near Lodrino.

The goal of the operation was to assess the ability of the Swiss combat aircraft to operate in case airfields are unavailable or a decentralization of air defense is required. In fact, the Swiss Federal Department of Defense (DDPS) said last week the test was necessary because all aircraft are concentrated on three air bases in Payerne, Meiringen and Emmen, making them vulnerable to long-range enemy weapons systems.

Swiss highway operations

In late 1950s, the Swiss Parliament approved the use of several makeshift runways on motorways, on which fighter planes could take off and land. The motorways were built exactly straight for two kilometer stretches and equipped with easily removable central barriers.

This motorway sections were located in Münsingen (BE), Oensingen (SO), Alpnach (OW), Lodrino (TI), Sion…


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