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Defence Forces

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 12 May 2022

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Questions (46)

Mick Barry

Question:

46. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Defence having regard to the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces and his public statements on the Defence Forces budget does he believe that there needs to be a greater spend the purchase of military equipment and what areas of military equipment would require increased spending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23821/22]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The report of the Commission on the Defence Forces was published in February 2022. It is a substantial report running to over 180 pages and 69 main recommendations many of which have sub recommendations. It recommends significant changes for the Defence Forces and Defence provision in Ireland. It covers high level Defence Forces structures, defence capabilities, organisation, culture and human resources, the Reserve Defence Force and funding.

The Commission's report is being fully considered, in consultation with Ministerial colleagues and other stakeholders. The intent is to revert to Government with a proposed response and a high-level action plan in advance of the summer recess. As the Deputy will appreciate, it would be inappropriate for me at this time to pre-empt an ongoing deliberative process.

Having said that, equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and Equipment Development Planning (EDP) process. The Equipment Development Plan (EDP) published in June 2020 provides a comprehensive list of planned equipment projects, this rolling five year plan is iterative and will encompass new equipment projects as it develops.

The ongoing ambitious programme of capital investment in the Naval Service includes the mid-life refit and upgrade of the P50 class of vessels, and the replacement of the flagship LÉ Eithne with a multi-role vessel (MRV).

The White Paper, in addressing Air Corps capability, provided for the replacement of the Cessnas and Casa 235 fleets. The Cessnas have now been replaced by three Pilatus PC-12 aircraft in the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) role providing a substantially increased capability with their state of the art surveillance technology. Two C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to replace the two Casa 235s are due to be delivered in 2023. These C295s are larger and more capable aircraft than those they replace and will enable the Air Corps to conduct maritime patrols and surveillance across Ireland's area of maritime interest, with enhanced capabilities.

Equipment projects for the Army include the midlife upgrade of the Army's fleet of 80 Mowag Piranha III armoured personnel carrier vehicles, 30 Armoured Utility Vehicles and 220 softskin vehicles which are due for delivery in 2022.

The Department of Defence has received a capital allocation under the National Development Plan of €566 million over the 2022-2025 timeframe. Within that capital allocation the Defence annual capital budget for 2022 is €141 million. This will enable continued investment in defence equipment, including major platforms, and barracks infrastructure.

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