MISSILES AND KAMPAGNEN
The aim of the past Swiss AF "Kampagnes" (campaigns) was to verify the function of the Mirage, F-5 and Hawker Hunter weapon systems in order to ensure the latter had not suffered any damage as a result of the sometimes long storage period. It was also matter of verify weapons performance after updates, new acquisitions and to improve combat readiness.
During the early 1960s the Swiss Air Force evaluated the infrared guided missile AIM-9B "Sidewinder" (SAF codename SIWA). After the delivery of the first SIWA in autumn 1963, three Hunters flew to Kalmar in Sweden for operational testing. The target was a missile equipped with an infrared source, which was fired by a fellow pilot in a second Hunter a few seconds before the live shot. During 1974, the SAF aquired a number of the improved AIM-9E.
The Hughes "TARAN" navigation and fire control system installed in the Mirage III was coupled to the Hughes AIM-4/ HM-55S "Falcon" ( Swiss AF codename FALCO) all-weather A/A guided missile. During the spring of 1966, 40 HM-55S were tested at Holloman (USA) against a variety of targets.
Also the air-to-ground guided missile Aerospatiale AS-30 NORAS was part of the Mirage weaponry. In 1967, four live guided missiles were fired successfully against hard targets (concrete walls) in Cazaux (F).
Over the years, a systematic check of all guided missile capability and accuracy was deemed as required. However, due to the known limited and problematic use of Swiss airspace, abroad campaigns of different kind continued to be carried out.
In 1977, 1981, 1986 and 1991, the "Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste - Group for Armament Services" GRD and the Swiss Air Force conducted joint tests and live firings with the guided weapons and cannons of the SAF assets in Vidsel /Sweden. The collected data confirmed the need for such periodic trials.
Supersonic flights below 10'000 m (33'000 ft.) are prohibited over swiss territory. For this reason it was decided, after all the various diplomatic clearances granted, to carry out air combat exercises in Sardinia, at the Air Weapons Training Installation (AWTI), Decimomannu AB, at the time the only such facility outside of the United States. 24 Mirage and Tiger pilots attended the campaign.
The first annual training exercise was acronymed SAKA (SArdinien KAmpagne) and begun 3 January 1985.
Up to 18 Mirages and F-5E conducted air combat maneuvering training in "Decimo" every year since. Following its fifth SAKA exercise in 1989, however, NATO air forces increased facility utilisation resulted in permission for Swiss Air Force usage to be withdrawn.
When its SAKA exercise set for June 1990 had to be cancelled, the Swiss Air Force moved its training program at UK RAF Waddington AB, codenamed NORKA (NORdsee KAmpagne). A newly built Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) range operated by British Aerospace allowing the conduct of realistic combat training.
In more recent times, other specific campaigns have taken place, e.g. the 2007 live firing of the AIM-9X missile system which take place at the US China Lake/ White Sands test range in 2007.
Below some examples of pilot equipment worn during the different "Kampagnen":
HOLLOMAN/ USA 1966
The mission was the theme of a 'Schweizer Illustrierte' magazine article. A picture shows chase plane photograph E. Saxer and test pilot Brennwald: Mr. Saxer wears an orange Fruhauf suit (right); Mr. Brennwald a Swiss made cotton suit of the same colour - worn as a rule by test pilots (left).
Mr. Brennwald's yellow helmet in the photo below (not yet modified with oxygen mask receivers), is now part of our friend MJ's collection.
CAZAUX / FRANCE 1967
Swiss made cotton orange flight suit;
BACK FROM VIDSEL /SWEDEN 1977
Swedish Air Force "Model 59" cap;
CWU-27 modified flying suit;
DECIMOMANNU /ITALY 1985
The first SAKA campaign was held in January 1985; much to their surprise, instead of mild temperatures, crews found the airbase covered by a layer of snow...their leather Pilotenjacken were greatly appreciated.
WADDINGTON/ GB 1994
Group picture taken during one of '90 NORKA's campaigns; Meteorological conditions, transfer flight and training areas over the sea dictated the use of suitable equipment, as the BFA Mk.10 anti-exposure suit and Secumar 10 HK life vest.
Note the British Mk.6C anti-G garment white semi-rigid connecting hose. The Mk.6C was used by the Swiss AF exclusively with the anti exposure suit. It would appear that the watertight hose neoprene outlet of the suit on the right is damaged, which could spoil your day in case of ditching...
Picture taken from the book “Ready to fight” (Neuenschwander, AERO Publications GmbH, 2023, published by kind permission of the author.