Written Answers. - Defence Forces Equipment.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

94 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Defence the total annual cost of the leasing the S61 helicopter that has been acquired for the Air Corps to operate in the north-west region as a replacement for the Dauphine; the total annual cost of the maintenance services to be provided by a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18786/03]

The S61 helicopter has been leased by the Irish Coast Guard from Canadian Helicopter Corporation Ireland, CHCI, pursuant to existing SAR contracts and has been tasked by the Irish Coast Guard to the Air Corps. The Air Corps will provide the flight crews and the aircraft will be maintained by CHCI. The S61 will operate out of Sligo Airport where training is currently ongoing. It is expected that the helicopter will go operational for daylight hours in July 2003 with a full 24 hours service operational from October 2003.

The total costs of this operation will amount to approximately €16 million over three years. This includes a monthly leasing cost of €86,056, payment of which commenced on 18 October, 2002, and a monthly maintenance cost of €165,526, payment of which commenced in mid April 2003.