Dáil debates

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Defence Forces

10:10 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I know people link the radar capacity with Russian naval military manoeuvres but we knew all about those manoeuvres. The Russians informed us and looked for permission. They informed the Irish Aviation Authority, which is what happens when a military wants to engage in manoeuvres in international waters that we are responsible for. That is not to say there is not an issue with primary radar; there is.

The equipment development plan for the Defence Forces was published in June 2020 and was completed following extensive military work. It provides a comprehensive list of planned equipment projects which will be progressed over five years. This plan builds on the intentions set out in the White Paper on equipment acquisition, modernisation and upgrade. It was developed to ensure that our Defence Forces have the major equipment platforms, ancillary equipment and force protection equipment which are necessary to carry out their important roles both at home and overseas. I am advised by the military authorities that the Defence Forces operate many different types of radar systems. Existing capabilities available to the Army include radar systems such as the Giraffe Mk4 short-range air defence system and the Foxtrack X-Band ground surveillance radar. The Air Corps uses surface search radar on the CASA 235 maritime patrol aircraft and all aircraft are fitted with a transponder and an automatic identification system for identification and tracking. The Naval Service uses maritime surface search radar and the recognised maritime picture systems for surveillance and tracking.

There is a range of further detail on equipment that I could outline to the Deputy but his core question is on the primary radar capacity for monitoring and understanding what is in Irish or Irish-controlled airspace off our west coast. This has been a question that continues to be asked. The report of the Commission on the Defence Forces recommends that we should deal with that by providing increased resources and that we should put that capacity in place. I do not disagree with that and this issue was also raised during the White Paper process. However, it was subject to the availability of resources because if one is going to spend money on that one has to reduce one's spend in other areas. I hope we will be able to progress with increasing that capacity but it involves more resources.


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