Thursday, 5 February 2004

Ceisteanna (10)

Liz McManus

Ceist:

9 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Defence when it is intended to proceed with the plans to acquire a fleet of light armoured vehicles for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3299/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

The Defence Forces commenced a programme to acquire Mowag APC/light armoured vehicles in 1999. To date, 40 of those vehicles have been received, and a further 25 vehicles are scheduled for delivery this year. The total cost of the programme is approximately €84 million.

In addition to that programme, the Defence Forces have a requirement for a smaller light armoured vehicle, designated as a light tactical vehicle, which can be used to protect troops engaged in peace support operations in areas where the use of the larger Mowag APC would be inappropriate. For instance, the movement of between one and three personnel in high-risk confined areas and general surveillance work are among the key roles of the vehicle.

Funding for the programme must be considered in the context of the APC programme and the changed financial situation, and it has been agreed with the military authorities that the programme for the acquisition of the vehicles will not proceed at present. In the meantime, the Defence Forces will continue to conduct further studies regarding the type and specification of vehicle required.