Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Department of Defence
Air Corps Equipment
575. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the aircraft throughout the Air Corps are constantly assessed for upgrading or replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53187/17]
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, Air Corps and Naval Service 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.
The White Paper on Defence 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 which is expected to conclude shortly.
The two Air Corps CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft are due for replacement in 2019. The White Paper also provides for the replacement of the CASA 235s with consideration to be given to their replacement with larger more capable aircraft which 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 in July 2017 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.