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Air policing missions

To maintain air sovereignty, the Swiss Air Force carries out "passive" (airspace monitoring operations and daily "active" air policing missions (interventions).

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Overview

As part of their air policing activities, the air force checks that the flight routes of foreign government aircraft flying over Switzerland correspond with the diplomatic clearance they have been given. Such missions are called "live missions".

Air policing missions carried out to assist civilian aircraft or in response to serious violations of air sovereignty or air traffic rules are called "hot missions".

The air policing capability is currently being expanded with the aim of having two armed combat aircraft ready for operations round the clock, 365 days a year, by the end of 2020.

Air policing missions are usually carried out from Payerne Air Base, but in the event of adverse weather conditions or a runway closure, aircraft take off from Meiringen or Emmen air bases.

Air defence also involves ground-based air defence – carried out by anti-aircraft resources – for which the Swiss Air Force relies on a combination of three systems: the Stinger lightweight air defence missile system, 35-mm cannons and the Rapier mobile air defence missile system. 

Sonic boom

During air policing operations, aircraft can reach supersonic speeds and cause a sonic boom at any time - even outside regular military flight hours. In these cases aircraft noise cannot be avoided, but the air force always endeavours to keep the number of supersonic flights to an absolute minimum and to adhere to the strict guidelines.