Swiss Air Force Exercise “Alpha One”: Testing Air Defense Systems with Highway Operations

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The Swiss Air Force will conduct an exercise in June 2024 to test air defense capability by landing and taking off from a motorway. This exercise, named “Alpha One,” aims to assess the ability of Swiss combat aircraft to operate if airfields are unavailable or decentralized air defense is needed. Highways in Switzerland were used as makeshift runways in the past and the SAF is reviving this practice due to increasing tensions with Russia. The goals are to prepare crews and pilots to operate decentralized from military structures and to ensure air defense coverage even without using actual air bases.

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🛫 Take off with Swiss Air Force! 🛬

In June 2024, Swiss Air Force will execute jaw-dropping landing and take-off operations on a motorway, in an exercise titled “Alpha One”. This extraordinary operation aims to test the agility of Swiss combat aircraft in case of emergency, when airfields are unavailable.

Back in the late 1950s, the Swiss Parliament approved the use of motorways as makeshift runways, giving birth to the innovative idea of using straight two kilometer stretches of highway as airfields. In less than six hours, these motorways could transform into airfields and, amazingly, only two hours after the last plane took off, they could be reopened for traffic. Fun fact: Highway operations were a standard practice during the Cold War and have seen a revival in recent times, with many air forces practicing for similar scenarios.

So, gear up to witness Swiss fighter jets like the F/A-18 Hornet performing incredible maneuvers on a motorway. Are you ready?

🎖️ Related Fun Fact: Did you know that the Swiss Air Force executed its last highway landing exercise in 1991? On that occasion, a highway was closed for 36 hours to let two fighter jets land: a Hawker Hunter and a Northrop F-5 Tiger.

The exercise will take place near Payerne Air Base, with the intent of testing the military’s efficiency away from conventional structures. Commander of Swiss Air Force Peter “Pablo” Merz stresses the crucial need for crews and pilots to operate in decentralized formations, ensuring air defense coverage even without traditional air bases.

This magnificent display of aerial skill will surely captivate spectators and reaffirm the capabilities of the Swiss Air Force. Let’s witness the marvels of modern aviation and honor the valor of the brave men and women who defend the skies!

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