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World News

Swiss voters approve $6.5 billion purchase of fighter jets

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss voters backed the government’s plan to spend up to 6 billion Swiss francs (5.07 billion pounds) on new fighter jets in a surprisingly close referendum that was won with a 50.2% majority, official results showed on Sunday.

Opinion polls had shown the plan would easily win approval in a country where armed neutrality is a tradition.

Approving funding in the binding referendum will let the government decide next year among the Eurofighter from Airbus, the Rafale from France’s Dassault, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, or the Lockheed Martin F35-A Lightning II.

The aircraft would replace Switzerland’s ageing fleet of 30 F/A-18 Hornets, which will go out of service in 2030.

New jets are to be delivered by 2025.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alison Williams and Barbara Lewis

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