My priority as Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
Maintenance and upgrading of military and technical 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.
In accordance with the National Development Plan (NDP), the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The NDP provides for a total of €541 million over the period 2018 to 2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years.
The Government is currently investing €12.8 million in updating the Communications Information and Security Network System for the Defence Forces so as to enable the current system to migrate to a Virtual Desktop Architecture. This information technology modernisation project commenced in 2016 when a contract was awarded to Evros Technology, an Irish company, and is scheduled to run until 2021. The project is on track and within budget. It will enable the Defence Forces to securely evolve its networks and information systems and to increase interoperability between users and other Departments and external agencies.
I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary modern and effective range of equipment and technology available to them which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.