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 to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
The acquisition of new equipment and the upgrading of equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process. 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.
In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years.
The fleet of vehicles, armoured and non-armoured utilised in the support of Defence Forces transport and logistics tasks and activities is constantly under review.
The mid-life upgrade programme for the Army’s fleet of eighty MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower. Additionally, twenty-four 4 x 4 Armoured Utility Vehicles were acquired in 2017, and in 2018 delivery was taken of ten new armoured logistic vehicles. These measures will provide essential force protection for personnel overseas.
There is also continuous investment in the non-armoured vehicle fleet. In 2018, 20 minibuses, 22 saloons, 61 logistics vehicles and 2 recovery vehicles were purchased for the Defence Forces, and funding is provided on an on-going basis for the required maintenance of vehicles in the military transport fleet, both at home and overseas. In addition, a tender competition is underway to replace the Army's 4 x 4 Fitted For Radio fleet of vehicles, while planning is underway to replace the fleet of Troop Carrying Vehicles.
I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary modern and effective range of equipment available to them which is in line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.