The Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D., together with the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, and senior representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces travelled to Switzerland today to visit two companies involved with major equipment projects for the Irish Defence Forces.
The Minister will visit the Pilatus facility in Stans, where three PC-12 fixed wing utility aircraft are being built for the Irish Air Corps. The contract for the supply of the aircraft was awarded to Pilatus in December 2017 following an open tender competition. The new aircraft, which will replace the five Cessna FR172H aircraft purchased for the Air Corps in 1972, is being equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) taskings, logistics support including transport of Defence Forces troops and equipment, and medical evacuation/air ambulance taskings. The cost of the contract, including equipment fit-out, is approximately €32 million excluding VAT. The first two aircraft will be delivered in 2019, and the third will be delivered in 2020.
The Minister will then travel to Kreuzlingen where he will visit the General Dynamics Europe Land Systems (GDELS - MOWAG) facility tomorrow. A maintenance and upgrade programme in respect of the Defence Forces’ fleet of MOWAG Piranha IIIH Armoured Personnel Carriers is currently underway with GDELS-MOWAG, following the signing of a contract in 2016 at a cost of €55m excluding VAT. The eighty-strong fleet was procured from GDELS-MOWAG from 2001 – 2007 and it represents the primary operational equipment capability of the Army. The maintenance and upgrade programme is being undertaken to increase force protection and to ensure the viability of the Pirahna IIIH fleet out to 2030.
Minister Kehoe said “I am delighted to have the opportunity to witness at first hand this major investment in equipment for the Defence Forces. The investment, which is underpinned by the White Paper on Defence, is an indication of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that all branches of the Defence Forces continue to retain a range of flexible conventional military capabilities in order to meet the roles assigned by Government”.
Note for Editors:
The National Development Plan 2018 to 2027 provides €541 million in capital funding for Defence for the period 2018 – 2022. This level of funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper. This includes further projects such as the replacement of both of the Air Corps CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft, the procurement of Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles, mid-life refit of Naval Vessels and other major capital equipment projects which will be progressed in that timeframe.