US Prioritizes Ukraine in Patriot Missile Deliveries, Delaying Swiss Orders

The United States has promised Ukraine priority access to American weapons.

The US has postponed the scheduled delivery of long-range interceptor missiles to Switzerland to prioritize Ukraine’s military needs, Swiss media reported on Tuesday citing authorities.

President Joe Biden announced last week that foreign buyers of American arms will have to wait behind Ukraine, stating that Ukraine needs them more to continue fighting Russia. Switzerland is one of the countries affected by this decision, the daily newspaper Blick reported.

Last fall, the European nation ordered PAC-3 missiles for the US-designed Patriot system, valued at 300 million Swiss francs ($340 million). However, the promised deliveries will be delayed due to the conflict in Ukraine, according to sources in the Swiss defense ministry who spoke to the news outlet, which described the situation as Ukraine “snatching” the weapons. The Swiss military later confirmed the report’s accuracy.

The situation highlights that “Switzerland needs an independent and robust defense industry once again, and to diversify procurement among manufacturers and countries,” the military stated.

The US last year authorized Switzerland to acquire up to 72 advanced MSE PAC-3 interceptor missiles for a total price of $700 million. The delivery was anticipated sometime in the late 2020s or early 2030s, according to sources. It remains unclear how this new delay will impact the timeline.

Washington reportedly stated that the alteration of the contract terms aligns with the ‘force majeure’ clause, which allows for changes to an agreement due to serious unforeseen circumstances. The Ukraine crisis constitutes a national security issue for the US, it reportedly informed Swiss officials.

“This is like during the Covid-19 pandemic: when there are problems, each country looks after itself,” Swiss MP Thomas Hurter told Blick regarding the situation. “The US decision highlights how quickly reliability can change.”

He urged the government to reconsider its plan to gradually phase out its current fleet of fighter jets, which it intends to replace with Lockheed-made F-35s. Switzerland ordered 36 of them last year for a sum exceeding $6.8 billion to be delivered between 2027 and 2030, enabling its Air Force to retire the aging F-5 Tigers and F/A-18 Hornets.