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Minister Kehoe concludes his trip to Switzerland where he visited two companies involved with equipment projects for the Defence Forces

Today, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D., together with the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, and senior representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces concluded his trip to Switzerland where he visited two facilities to inspect progress on major equipment projects for the Irish Defence Forces.

The Minister visited the Pilatus facility in Stans, where three PC-12 fixed wing utility aircraft are being built for the Irish Air Corps. The contract for the supply of the aircraft was awarded to Pilatus in December 2017 following an open tender competition. The new aircraft, which will replace the five Cessna FR172H aircraft purchased for the Air Corps in 1972, is being equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) taskings, logistics support including transport of Defence Forces troops and equipment, and medical evacuation/air ambulance taskings. The cost of the contract, including equipment fit-out, is approximately €32 million excluding VAT. The first two aircraft will be delivered in 2019, and the third will be delivered in 2020.

Today, the Minister travelled to Kreuzlingen where he visited the General Dynamics Europe Land Systems (GDELS - MOWAG) facility. A maintenance and upgrade programme in respect of the Defence Forces’ fleet of MOWAG Piranha IIIH Armoured Personnel Carriers is currently underway with GDELS-MOWAG, following the signing of a contract in 2016 at a cost of €55m excluding VAT. The eighty-strong fleet was procured from GDELS-MOWAG from 2001 – 2007 and it represents the primary operational equipment capability of the Army. The maintenance and upgrade programme is being undertaken to increase force protection and to ensure the viability of the Pirahna IIIH fleet out to 2030.

Minister Kehoe said: “This year marks the 60th anniversary of Irish participation in UN peacekeeping missions. Ireland makes a substantial contribution to international peace and support operations relative to its size. Investment in equipment such as the maintenance and upgrade programme for the Defence Forces fleet of MOWAG Piranha IIIH, which is underpinned by the White Paper on Defence, shows our commitment to ensuring that our personnel have the equipment they need to fulfil their roles in such operations. The professionalism of our peacekeepers is dependent to a large extent on the training they receive and equipment that is procured for them. We are fortunate to have well trained and well equipped personnel capable of undertaking the current peacekeeping roles that they are involved in and to face new emerging challenges.”

Note for Editors:

The National Development Plan 2018 to 2027 provides €541 million in capital funding for Defence for the period 2018 – 2022. This level of funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper. This includes further projects such as the replacement of both of the Air Corps CASA Maritime Patrol aircraft, the procurement of Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles, mid-life refit of Naval Vessels and other major capital equipment projects which will be progressed in that timeframe.