Thursday, 11 July 2019

Questions (56)

Jack Chambers


56. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if air combat and intercept capability improvements have been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30541/19]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

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 both at home and overseas.

The acquisition of new 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, including response to security risks and other emergencies, both at home and overseas.

The Air Corps’ existing Pilatus PC9 aircraft provide a very limited air to air and air to ground intercept capacity. The White Paper provides for the consideration of the development of a more capable air combat/intercept capability as part of the White Paper update. The first White Paper update is nearing completion in my Department and will consider progress made to date and give consideration to any revisions required.