Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Defence
232. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he will provide an overview of the Air Corps aircraft renewal and replacement programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49276/21]
My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is maintained and developed. This is to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles assigned by Government as set out in 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 Development Planning (EDP) process.
In this context, the principal aim over the period of the White Paper is to replace and upgrade, as required, capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements at home and overseas. Defence has received a capital allocation under the National Development Plan of €566m over the 2022-2025 timeframe. Within that captial allocation the Defence annual capital budget for 2022 is €141m. This will enable continued investment in Defence major equipment platforms and barracks infrastructure.
In relation to air-based capability, my immediate priorities have been the acquisition of three Pilatus PC-12 aircraft in the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) role and to acquirer two Airbus C295 maritime patrol aircraft. An additional PC-12 was also acquired in response to the Covid 19 situation. A contract for the supply of two C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft was signed with Airbus Defence and Space in December 2019, with delivery of the aircraft expected in 2023. Some €276 million, including VAT, has been committed to the acquisition of all of these enhanced capabilities.
I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary resources available to them, including a modern and effective range of equipment which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.