Thursday, 11 July 2019

Ceisteanna (55)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

55. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if new armoured logistic vehicles were procured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30540/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service  is  maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government both at home and overseas.

The acquisition of new 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, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. 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 White Paper on Defence provides that Ireland's ongoing active participation in a range of peacekeeping and crisis management missions is a key policy requirement. While each mission has elements of danger, it is the Government's position that all actions should be taken to minimise threats to the safety of personnel. Armoured vehicles provide essential force protection and, in this context in accordance with the equipment planning process, the fleet of armoured vehicles is subject to regular review to ensure that it meets operational requirements both at home and overseas.

The White Paper identified the procurement of a small number of armoured logistics vehicles for overseas missions as a force protection requirement. A contract valued at some €6m (ex VAT) was awarded to an Irish company, Westward Scania, in 2017 for the provision of 10 new armoured logistic vehicles for the Defence Forces, in order to provide combat service support personnel with the requisite force protection to operate in a supporting role in high threat environments. The vehicles were delivered in 2018 and are in operational service. The procurement of these vehicles also enhances Ireland's ability to participate in integrated multinational deployments.

Further investment in armoured vehicles continues with a multi-year mid-life upgrade programme for the Army’s fleet of eighty MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers which is underway, this programme of works will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower. Additionally, twenty-four 4 x 4 Armoured Utility Vehicles were acquired for the Defence Forces in 2017.

I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary resources available to them, including a modern and effective range of equipment which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.