Flyout of the F-5 "Tiger" fleet
On Monday Austria handed back its twelve F-5 "Tiger" interceptor planes to the Swiss Air Force. Since July 2004, the Austrian Armed Forces had been leasing the planes to bridge the gap between the retirement of the ageing Saab Drakens and the new Eurofighter jets that Austria is currently receiving.
Before the flyout, the Austrian Minister of Defence Norbert Darabos emphasised the special relationship between Austria and Switzerland. Among other things, he mentioned the seamless co-operation during the operation to protect the European Football Championships held in the two countries in June 2008.
5,000 Flying Hours
During the four years of service in Austria, the F-5 "Tigers" have totaled over 5,000 flying hours, providing air patrols to protect numerous events, including visits by U.S. President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI. The jets were maintained and operated by personnel of the Austrian Armed Forces.
Eurofighters Take Over
Air policing and air defence operations are now performed by the new Eurofighters. The jets are stationed at the military airbase in Zeltweg/Styria and they are operated by the Überwachungsgeschwader (surveillance squadron).