Monday, 11 September 2017
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Equipment
2097. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to upgrade or replace military equipment across the three services over the next five years; the estimated cost for replacing or upgrading this equipment; and the list of countries from which this equipment is being procured. [37492/17]
My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government as set out on the White Paper on Defence. Equipment priorities for the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps are being considered in the context of the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment planning process. In this context the principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements both at home and overseas.
There is focus on the essential force protection provided by armoured vehicles, and in this regard a maintenance and upgrade programme has commenced for the current fleet of 80 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) which will seek to ensure viability of the fleet out to 2030. A contract was agreed in December 2016 with General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag, the original manufacturer of the fleet based in Switzerland, for a maintenance and upgrade programme. The value of the contract is €55m exclusive of VAT.
A small number of armoured logistical vehicles and armoured utility vehicles are also being procured for force protection from Westward Scania Ireland and Centigon France respectively, at an estimated total cost of €11m exclusive of VAT. Both contracts were awarded on foot of public tender competitions.
The White Paper underpins the ongoing replacement of the Naval Service fleet. A significant investment over recent years has been on the procurement of new Off-Shore Patrol Vessels for the Naval Service. The third ship in the programme, LÉ William Butler Yeats, was commissioned in to service in October 2016. A contract for an additional sister ship was placed with Babcock International, a British company, in June 2016 bringing investment in the new ships programme to over €250 million since 2010. The fourth ship, to be named LÉ George Bernard Shaw is scheduled for delivery in mid 2018.
Future Naval Service capabilities are being planned as part of the White Paper project planning process which will determine the Defence Organisation’s maritime capability requirements. The White Paper provides for the replacement of the current Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi role vessel which will be enabled for helicopter operations and will also have a freight carrying capacity. It is the intention to hold a public tender competition in due course to cover the supply of the MRV subject to the availability of funding within the overall Defence capital funding envelope. The cost of the MRV will only be known once the tender competition is concluded.
The White Paper provides that the Air Corps will see the Cessna fleet replaced with three larger aircraft suitably equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance tasks. The tender competition for the procurement of the three new aircraft is underway and the cost will be determined by the outcome of the tender competition. The White Paper also provides for the replacement of two CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with consideration of their replacement with larger more capable aircraft. This would enhance maritime surveillance and provide a greater degree of utility for transport and cargo carrying tasks.
Also, a decision was made in 2016 to replace a PC-9M aircraft and this aircraft was delivered from Pilatus Aircraft in Switzerland this July at a cost of €5m exclusive of VAT. The new aircraft brings the fleet up to 8 and will assist in a required increase in pilot training in the Air Corps.