A Swiss Highway Closed for 36 Hours to Make Way for Fighter Jets Instead of Cars

  • Switzerland’s armed forces performed the combat maneuver for the first time since 1991.

  • Last year, the Finnish Air Force successfully landed the latest generation of one of the most advanced fighter jets.

No comments Twitter Flipboard E-mail

This week, the A-1 highway in Switzerland, between the municipalities of Avenches and Payerne (in the Swiss canton of Vaud), was closed to all cars for nearly two days. There was a good reason for this: It prevented drivers from getting their cars   destroyed. 

For 36 hours, the six-mile stretch of the road served as a temporary runway. Fighter planes used the highway for takeoff and landing, which required it to be clear of vehicles for safety. The exceptional measure was part of a Swiss armed forces maneuvering exercise. According to official sources, it’s a rehearsal so that troops and commanders know how to act if they have to mobilize aircraft from improvised locations.

The Swiss government stressed that these maneuvers are crucial for preventing long-range attacks. Authorities explained that their aircraft are stationed at three bases across the country and in the event of a potential war, it’s important to have a clear plan for decentralizing units. This requires being prepared for various scenarios, including takeoffs and landings on highways.

Using the Road as a Runway

This is far from being the first time a fighter plane has landed or taken off from a road. The last major simulation of this type on Swiss soil took place in 1991. During the Cold War, the country had designed highways to allow fighter planes to land and take off if necessary.

Highway 1
Highway 2

The photos in this post depict the events on Swiss land, but Switzerland isn’t the only country that has conducted maneuvers to test whether its fighter jets can operate on roads. For example, in the 1980s, NATO conducted several tests in Germany to test the feasibility of operating its jets on the roads in the country.

In fact, the Germans were already aware of these maneuvers during World War II. The army built large highways to move troops, transport tank parts, and land aircraft. At the same time, they were preparing them for plane landings.

As fighter planes have grown in size and complexity, it’s become challenging for highways to support these vehicles. Therefore, these maneuvers are necessary to ensure that troops can effectively deal with these challenges when the time comes.

For instance, the Saab Gripen fighter jet is designed to operate in extreme conditions. Saab AB, the Swedish aerospace company responsible for it, claims that model can operate even with ice and snow on the roadway, which makes taking off from a highway or a runway seem the easiest thing in the world.

According to Saab’s promotional videos, the fighter only needs a runway 52 feet wide and 2,625 feet in a straight line for takeoff or landing.

In September 2023, the Finnish Air Force achieved a milestone by successfully landing two F-35A fighters. For its part, the U.S. previously demonstrated the F-35 B’s ability to land and take off vertically, which is particularly useful on highways or aircraft carriers. However, until recently, this type of fighter jet hadn’t achieved its first successful landing.

Image | Finnish Air Force | Swiss government

Related | China Claims Its New Tech Can Detect the F-22 Raptor, the U.S. Army’s Invisible Plane

Home o Index