Ethiopian Airlines hijacking: The Swiss Air Force will only repel invasions during office hours.

The Swiss Air Force Will Only Repel Invasions During Office Hours

The Swiss Air Force Will Only Repel Invasions During Office Hours

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Feb. 18 2014 2:14 PM

The Swiss Air Force Is Only Available During Office Hours

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 author of the forthcoming book, Invisible Countries.

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.


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.