Swiss Air Force announce plans to land fighter jets on A1 motorway

Swiss Air Force announce plans to land fighter jets on A1 motorway

While it may sound like something from a Hollywood blockbuster, the Air Force has confirmed that it will be looking to close the A1 motorway in Switzerland for a whole day, to practice landing and taking off on it. The government noted that the main arterial road connecting Swiss cities was actually designed with the purpose in mind.

Swiss Air Force planning exercise on A1 motorway

In a statement, the Federal Department of Defence confirmed that it would be looking to close a section of the A1 motorway between Bern and Lausanne at some point during the summer. The plans, while yet to be fully approved by the government, would see the entire road closed for around a day.

However, instead of major roadworks or a lane expansion, the road will be closed for a more Top Gun-esque reason: the Swiss Air Force wants to practice landing and taking off on the motorway using their F/A-18 fighter jets. 

Swiss motorways can be converted into runways

According to the military, many Swiss motorways were built with plane landings in mind. Indeed, during the Cold War, the authorities realised that if Switzerland were attacked, the enemy’s first target would be the country’s limited number of airfields and airports. Any such attack would quickly render the Air Force useless.

Therefore, the motorways in Münsingen (Canton Bern), Oensingen (Solothurn), Alpnach (Obwalden), Lodrino (Ticino), Sitten (Valais) and Flums (St. Gallen) were all designed to allow aircraft to land and take off at will. The two-kilometre stretches of road were built dead-straight, with easily removable central guardrails to allow planes to land. You can see how the system works in the video below:

Video: ww2schweiz / YouTube

Swiss government worries about traffic impact

While the military shelved the motorway runways back in 1995, Air Force Chief Peter Merz told the media last year that they were thinking of bringing back the practice and that Air Force planes should learn to take off and land on major highways “every now and then.”

According to Watson, the Defence Department will send the idea to the Federal Council for approval in January, before seeking authorisation from Canton Bern - where the exercise would take place. Needless to say, the idea of closing down what is one of the most used roads in Switzerland has not gone down with the Federal Roads Office (Astra), which wrote in a blog post that “the almost full-day closure of the A1 necessary for the exercise would probably result in veritable traffic chaos.”

Thumb image credit: InsectWorld /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

Read more



Leave a comment