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Minister for Justice announces additional funding for new Garda helicopter and fixed wing plane

The Minister for Justice Simon Harris TD has today announced an additional capital allocation of €21.5m to support significant investment in a replacement helicopter and fixed wing plane for An Garda Síochána.

Funding will be provided in 2023 to support the procurement of a longer range and high capacity utility helicopter fully equipped with Garda mission equipment.

It will also be made available to procure a fully equipped plane, with the requisite reliability and enhanced capabilities to support policing, security and surveillance operations.

The new helicopter will also support the rapid deployment of the Emergency Response Unit and Armed Support Units where necessary.  


Together, the investments will provide a vital support to the security of the State, offering consistent and effective capacity to Garda national units in the investigation of espionage, terrorism, Organised Crime Gangs (OCG), border policing, human and drug trafficking, kidnapping and fuel smuggling/laundering. 


Speaking today, Minister Harris said:


“The Garda Air Support Unit does vital work to combat criminal activity and protect the public. This new, state-of-the-art plane and helicopter will significantly boost the State’s aerial support and ability to uphold national security.”

“The allocation of this additional funding is further evidence of the Government’s commitment to provide An Garda Síochána with the resources it needs to keep us safe.


“It’s vital our Gardaí have the resources they need to tackle serious and organised crime, police our borders, investigate potential threats, increase their surveillance capacity and rapidly deploy specialist units, such as the Emergency Response Unit and the Armed Support Unit, across the State.”


“I expect that the new helicopter will be purchased, delivered and become operational this year, while the new plane will become operational in 2024.”


 Of the €21.5 million being made available in 2023 through Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR), administered by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, €9million will go towards phased payments for a replacement Garda Fixed Wing Aircraft.

€12.5 million will be provided for the purchase and delivery of a helicopter.


Notes for Editors

The Garda Air Support Unit

The Garda Air Support Unit (GASU) was established in September 1997 with the delivery of a Pilatus Britten-Norman BN 2T-4S Defender 4000 fixed wing aircraft and a Eurocopter AS355N Eceuriel helicopter. 

The unit is based at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel on the outskirts of Dublin city although from time to time aircraft may be based at other locations within the State.


Garda aircraft may be deployed to incidents in the following cases: 

  • Immediate threat to life
  • Incidents of a criminal, terrorist or other nationally important nature
  • Immediate threat of serious public disorder
  • Tasks leading to the prevention or detection of crime
  • Evidence gathering
  • Intelligence gathering
  • Photographic tasks
  • Traffic Management/Monitoring  


Garda aircraft are maintained on the Irish military register. Irish Air Corps personnel pilot all aircraft and provide maintenance facilities on behalf of the Department of Justice


All aircraft in service with the unit are selected to meet stringent operational policing requirements. The aircraft are fitted with the latest police role equipment including state-of-the-art daylight and thermal image cameras mounted on gyro stabilised platforms, search lights, extensive communication suites and microwave downlink/uplink technology.


Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR)

The BAR aims to provide financial support to the most affected Member States, regions and sectors to deal with the adverse consequence of Brexit. Ireland is a significant beneficiary of this fund. Expenditure under the Reserve must demonstrate a direct link to the negative impact of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.  The total fund for 2020-2023 in Ireland is €1.17 billion.


Environmental impact

New Aircraft have lower environmental impact with replacement helicopter expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%. Newer engines have better performance characteristics over older engine technology, thus consuming less fuel and producing lower emissions. Newer aircraft engines will also be capable of utilising Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).