Thursday, 5 February 2004

Ceisteanna (29)

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

25 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Defence if he will report on the Government's recently agreed €10 million purchase from a company (details supplied) of the Javelin anti-tank missile system; if his Department contacted the Foyle ethical investment campaign before making this purchase; if this armaments purchase is consistent with Derry City Council's recent decision to adopt a policy to reject inward investment related to the arms trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3391/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

In early 2000, a case was forwarded by the military authorities for the initiation of a replacement programme for the Milan medium range anti-tank guided weapon system, which was originally purchased for the Defence Forces in 1982. The primary role of the replacement system was to provide protection to Irish troops against armoured threats while serving overseas.

A tender competition was initiated in May 2000 and following a detailed evaluation of tenders by a military board, the Javelin medium range anti-tank guided weapon system manufactured by a US joint venture, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, was recommended for purchase. A letter of agreement for the acquisition of the Javelin system was signed with the US Government in January 2003. The value of the agreement is approximately €12.7 million, inclusive of VAT. Payments under the contract are scheduled over the period 2003 to 2005. The main delivery under the contract will be in 2005. However, an advance delivery of some items will take place this year to facilitate the training of military personnel.

It is important that we continue to provide modern equipment for our personnel for training purposes and service overseas. The Javelin system is capable of being deployed with the new Mowag APCs and will provide personnel and the APCs with effective, anti-armour protection while on overseas service. The purchase of the Javelin system is part of the full package necessary to ensure that Irish troops can continue their participation in peacekeeping operations throughout the world.

As I noted earlier, the tender competition for the acquisition of the replacement system was initiated in 2000 with the letter of agreement signed in January 2003. The resolution by Derry City Council was adopted in January 2004 and related to inward investment. My duty, as Minister for Defence, is to ensure that the Defence Forces are suitably equipped, in particular for the valuable and highly regarded role they have played in peace support operations in so many parts of the world. In acquiring such equipment my Department has regard to wider national policy issues and any guidance on offer from the United Nations.