Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (133)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

133. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of vehicles (details supplied) purchased in 2001 which are still in service; and his plans to replace same. [48692/19]

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 to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

The acquisition of 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.

Following a tender competition, a contract was signed on 30 November 1999 for the supply by Mowag of Switzerland of 40 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), initial spares, special tools and training courses. These vehicles were delivered in 2001 and 2002. Subsequent contracts in 2002 and 2005 saw a further 25 and 15 vehicles respectively delivered, bringing the fleet to its current strength of 80 vehicles. The MOWAG Armoured People Carrier has been the cornerstone of Irish Defence Forces deployments overseas offering essential force protection to Defence Forces personnel. All of the 40 initial vehicles delivered in 2001 and 2002 are still in active service.

In 2016 a contract was signed with General Dynamics European Land Systems – Mowag for a multi-year mid-life maintenance and upgrade programme of the MOWAG APC fleet at a cost of €55m plus VAT. The terms of this contract allows for changes to the scope of work and configuration of certain variants of vehicles to be agreed between the parties during the lifetime of the contract. The first 29 refurbished vehicles have been delivered in 2018 and 2019 and a further 9 are scheduled for delivery early in 2020. This programme will extend the utility of the fleet and provide greater levels of protection, mobility and firepower and will seek to ensure viability of the fleet out to 2030.

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.