The Swiss Air Force Will Only Repel Invasions During Office Hours

How It Works
Feb. 18 2014 2:14 PM

The Swiss Air Force Is Only Available During Office Hours

162231907-hornet-fighter-aircraft-of-the-swiss-air-force-takes
A F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft of the Swiss Air Force takes off on Feb. 20, 2013, at Payerne airport ... presumably before 5.

Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

It may have been a few centuries since Switzerland fought a war, but it still enjoys a reputation as a place that would be pretty difficult to invade. Its “mountain redoubt” isn’t quite what it was in Cold War days, but the country still “maintains a system of about 26,000 bunkers and fortifications throughout the Swiss Alps meant to deter attacking armies.” Get past the Alps, and you have to deal with a population where all menand many womenhave military training and quite a few have held on to their assault rifles just in case.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

But Fortress Switzerland’s reputation for impregnability took a blow yesterday, when an Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked by its asylum-seeking co-pilot and landed in Geneva. While Italian and French fighter planes were scrambled to escort the hijacked airliner through their airspaces, Switzerland’s own F-18s remained on the ground throughout the incident.

Advertisement

Why? According to Swiss Air Force spokesman Laurent Savary, as reported by Agence France-Presse, it was after business hours:

[T]he Swiss airforce is only available during office hours. These are reported to be from 8am until noon, then 1:30 to 5pm.
"Switzerland cannot intervene because its airbases are closed at night and on the weekend," he said, adding: "It's a question of budget and staffing."

So, if planning an aerial invasion of Switzerland, nights, weekends, and lunchtimes are probably your best bet. Take note, Liechtenstein.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Crime
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:46 PM Ebola Is No Measles. That’s a Good Thing. Comparing this virus to scourges of the past gives us hope that we can slow it down.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?