In all, 53.4 percent of voters balked at releasing the 3.1 billion Swiss francs (€2.5 billion) needed to purchase the 22 planes from Sweden's Saab, according to official referendum results.
"This is sad," Defence Minister Karin Enström told the TT news agency. We have worked with Switzerland for a long time to find a solution together."
The minister said she was now setting her sights on Brazil, which has previously shown interest in buying 36 of the planes.
"It's a whole new set of circumstances now that Switzerland has said no, and we have to find a new way forward."