Williams Foundation Lunch: A Learning Curve for the Swiss Air Force

  • 20 Jun 2017
  • 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
  • Boathouse by the Lake, ACT


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In 1979 the Swiss Air Force realized the huge difference between a Training Air Force and an Operational Air Force.  This experience led to a new doctrine, technical modifications, new training and the search for a combat proven benchmark.  Lieutenant General (Retd) Christophe Keckeis and Lieutenant General (Rtd) Markus Gygax will talk about their experience flying with the Israeli Air Force flying F-5s and Mirage IIIs.

Lieutenant General (Retd) Christophe Keckeis
Former Head of the Swiss Armed Forces

Lieutenant General (Retd) Christophe Keckeis started his military career as a Pilot in the Surveillance Wing in 1966 and soon became the Head of the Air Combat Training of the Swiss Air Force and later Chief Operations of the Airforce. He held different other functions which led him to the position of Chief of Staff of the Commander of the Swiss Air Force. Whilst pursuing his military career, he studied Political Science at the University of Lausanne.

In 2003, Lieutenant General (Retd) Keckeis was promoted to Chief of the Swiss Armed Forces, a post which he occupied until 2007. During his career, he participated in and commanded several missions abroad, one of them being Operation ALBA in Albania. Moreover, he worked in France, Georgia, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, UAE and USA. From 2008 until 2015, he was the President of the Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in Geneva. At the same time, he was member of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Security, Economics and Technology of the University of St. Gallen for three years, while also being President of the Espace Passion at the Musée Clin d’Ailes.

In 2009, he also was an expert for the Independent Fact Finding Commission on the Conflict in Georgia (IIFFMCG). In one of his most recent postings, he operated as Chief Security Officer of Planet Solar, a Swiss company founded in 2008 with the aim to dispense the use of fossil fuels. Lieutenant General (Retd) Keckeis received decorations as Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur from France as well as the Austrian Grosses Silbernes Ehrenzeichen mit dem Stern. Until 2012, he was a Flight Instructor with over 5380 hours of flight time. He is married and has three children.

Lieutenant General (Rtd) Markus Gygax
Former Commander Swiss Air Force

Function till end of 2012
Lieutenant General Gygax commanded the Swiss Air Force. He was responsible for
basic readiness, training and operations of air and anti-aircraft forces, and was directly accountable to the Chief of the Armed Forces.

Air force, anti-aircraft and command support training untis as well as the operational
organization with air base commands were assigned to Lieutenant General Gygax.
1980 Captain, pilot, Squadron commander (TIGER F-5 E/F)
1987 Captain General Staff
1988 Major General Staff, Wing commander (MIRAGE III S/RS)
1994 Lieutenant colonel General Staff, air force regiment commander
1995 Colonel General Staff, commander air force operations group
1998 Brigadier General, commander air force brigade
2003 Major General, Chief Air Force Operations, Deputy Commander Air Force
2008 Commander Air Force ad interim
2009 Lieutenant General, Commander Air Force

1971 Air Force pilot, flight instructor, pilot aerobatic team Patrouille Suisse (Hawker HUNTER)
1978 Combat flight instructor training, Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, USA
1980 Chief flight instructor at pilot schools, PC-7, TIGER F-5 E/F
1990 Assigned staff officer to Chief of Air Force Operations
1991 École Supérieure de Guerre Aérienne, Paris, FRANCE
1995 Chief of introduction of F/A-18 C/D (HORNET)
Flight hours: about 5'000 on propeller and jet aircrafts.

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