The Swiss air force hasn’t done this since the Cold War

The practice is more common in sparsely populated Nordic countries

Source: SAAB Industries
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

The Swiss Air Force is holding a military exercise today, with the A1 motorway closed from 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening until 9 a.m. on Thursday morning as pilots practice a rare maneuver, namely taking off from the freeway in their F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets. Although similar exercises are not uncommon in Europe, Switzerland has not performed one since the Cold War.

The covert exercise “Alpha Uno” is being held on the A1 motorway between Avenches and Payerne, with traffic diverted to the surrounding minor roads during the closure. The A1 is the country’s most strategically important highway, running east-west across the country between Geneva and St. Gallen.

Since the last time Switzerland conducted such an exercise was decades ago, it can be expected that nearly all the pilots performing the manuever are performing it for the first time.

In a real-life scenario where air bases are rendered inoperable, most likely due to missile strikes that take out runways, pilots are expected to utilize a country’s roads.

It is also not unusual to use roads as runways, especially in more sparsely populated countries. In Scandinavia, various air bases are also set up along highways, from which fighters can be launched after short preparations in case of an emergency.

There is already footage of Swedish JAS-39 Gripen C fighters and their ground support personnel at a roadside air base, among other places.

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