My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
The resources available to the Defence Forces to carry out their operational commitments are kept under constant review and 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 recently published Defence Equipment Development Plan (EDP), provides a comprehensive list of planned Army, Air Corps and Naval Service equipment projects to be advanced over the next five years.
As set out in the White Paper on Defence Update (2019), the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027, which provides €541m in capital funding for Defence over the period to 2022, does not make provision for a radar surveillance capability for the Air Corps. It remains Government policy, as per the 2015 White Paper on Defence, that should additional funding, beyond that required to maintain existing capabilities become available the development of a radar surveillance capability is a priority for the Air Corps. Funding for this is not provided in the current resource envelope and any future decisions in this regard will be in the context of the ongoing security environment and any associated developments.
In order to carry out Air Corps tasks such as maritime air patrols or air ambulance there is a requirement to have access to the appropriate operational picture. At present, the Service Level Agreement with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) provides for receipt by the Air Corps of radar data from the IAA in support of Air Corps operations.
All of the Departments and Agencies referred to above, as well as the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána who have primary responsibility for the internal security of the State, work closely together to ensure coordination in areas of mutual interest. In this regard, the Department of Transport has overall responsibility for the development and formulation of national policy in the field of aviation security, and for aviation security obligations under all national and international legislation. The National Aviation Security Committee meets regularly, under the chairmanship of the Department of Transport. The Department of Defence and the Air Corps are members of this committee.