Theodor Real was charged with forming a flying corps and set about training the initial nine pilots at a makeshift airfield close to Wankdorf Stadium, later moving to a permanent home at Dübendorf. Switzerland remained neutral and isolated during the conflict, and the air corps confined its activities to training and exercises, reconnaissance and patrol.
The Swiss Air Force as an autonomous military service was created in October 1936. Although Switzerland remained neutral throughout World War Two, it had to deal with numerous violations of its airspace by combatants on all sides – initially by German aircraft, especially during their invasion of France in 1940. Zealous Swiss pilots attacked and shot down eleven German aircraft in return for two of their own killed before a threatening memorandum from the German leadership forced General Guisan to forbid air combat above Swiss territory. Later in the war, the Allied bomber offensive sometimes took US or British bombers into Swiss airspace, either damaged craft seeking safe haven or even on occasions bombing Swiss cities by accident. Swiss aircraft would attempt to intercept individual aircraft and force them to land, interning the crews. Only one further Swiss pilot was killed during the war, shot down by a US bomber crew in September 1944.
After World War II the service was renamed the Swiss Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Command and in 1966 became a separate service independent from the Army, under its present name Schweizer Luftwaffe. At the end of the 1950s, reflecting both the threat of possible invasion by the Soviet Union and the realities of nuclear warfare, Swiss military doctrine changed to mobile defense that included missions for the Air Force outside of its territory, in order to defeat standoff attacks and nuclear threats, including the possibility of defensive employment of air-delivered nuclear weapons.
In 1964 the procurement of the Dassault Mirage III fighters (1964–2002) caused a scandal due to severe budget overruns. In 1974 the first 2 Northrop F-5 Tiger fighters were tested and in 1978 the first F-5 Tiger fighter/interceptor squadron became operational. The F-5 is currently still operational but is scheduled to be replaced in 2015.