Skyguide plays a key role in maintaining the sovereignty of Switzerland’s airspace, by performing military air traffic management services on the Swiss Air Force’s behalf. These services are provided daily for the Swiss Air Force’s aerial policing activities and its fighter training flights. From the end of 2020 onwards skyguide will be providing such services on a 24/7 basis. The civil-military collaboration is also being further intensified in the technical field.
Skyguide works with the Swiss Air Force to protect Switzerland’s airspace. Should an unidentified aircraft enter Swiss airspace, a Swiss Air Force jet will be dispatched to intercept it, with the support of skyguide’s military air traffic controllers. The same controllers guide the air force aircraft from their bases to their mission targets, and assist the military pilots in their tactical aerial combat exercises.
Skyguide fulfilled all the provisions of its service agreement with the Swiss Air Force to enable the latter to perform its sovereign mandate in 2019. Total military aircraft movements handled amounted to 94 519, a 7.2% increase on the 88 205 of the previous year. Skyguide also conducted 289 live/hot missions and 2 020 tactical missions in the course of the year (compared to 261 and 2 110 respectively in 2018).
The Swiss Air Force should maintain a round-the-clock aerial policing capability by 2021. The corresponding expansion of the military air traffic management services required for this proceeded as planned in 2019. Skyguide supports the Swiss Air Force in its military airspace monitoring to the period between 06:00 and 22:00 (compared to 08:00 to 18:00 the previous year). Following the implementation of this third development phase, interventions can now be effected for 92% of all IFR flights over Swiss territory. Phase four, which will bring 24/7 readiness, will begin on 1 January 2021.
This new round-the-clock military ATM operating hours will entail a larger proportion of inactive time for the employees concerned, which will pose a challenge in itself. New forms of further training will need to be devised to ensure that skyguide’s military air traffic controllers maintain the competencies they require. Rosters, too, will need to be planned with greater efficiency. The additional duty periods needed to ensure the round-the-clock readiness sought will be used more extensively for non-operating activities such as training preparation and developing procedural adjustments.
Skyguide and the Swiss Air Force have been collaborating for years on the technological front, with impressive results. Skyguide has been responsible for maintaining and renewing the military navigation facilities since 2012. The company also supports armasuisse in its technical acceptance of new systems, and conducts any safety analyses required.
Multilateration technology is coming increasingly to replace classic radar facilities for aircraft tracking purposes, in both the civil and the military aviation field. With its pioneering decision to introduce a multilateration system at Locarno Air Force Base, the Swiss Air Force is laying the foundation for a joint civil-military surveillance strategy, and thus also for a further intensification of the civil-military collaboration.