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Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, T.D., Visits Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel to mark the arrival of three new PC-12 NG Spectre aircraft for the Air Corps

The Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., visited Casement Aerodrome this morning to mark the arrival of three new Pilatus PC-12 NG Spectre Aircraft. The Minister was accompanied by the Department of Defence Secretary General, Jacqui McCrum and Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, and was met by General Officer Commanding the Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor and members of the team involved in delivering the Project.

The contract for the supply of the aircraft was awarded to Pilatus in December 2017 following an open tender competition. The new aircraft, which replace the five Cessna FR172H aircraft purchased for the Air Corps in 1972, are 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.

Speaking at the event, Minister Coveney said

The arrival of these aircraft is a great boost to the Air Corps and I am personally delighted to see it come to fruition. These aircraft will provide a versatile capability to the Air Corps and will be capable of operating in various roles on a 24/7 basis in all types of weather conditions.

Since the arrival of the aircraft on Thursday 10th September, the aircraft have undergone a series of tests and inspections. Further flight and equipment testing will take place over the coming weeks before the aircraft are fully accepted and ready for operations.

The Minister also said

The investment of over €43m in these aircraft is an indication of the Government’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that all branches of the Defence Forces are appropriately equipped to deliver a range of flexible military capabilities to meet the roles assigned by Government. “
In his concluding remarks, the Minister commended the project team and their counterparts in Pilatus Aircraft Limited for ensuring delivery of the aircraft, notwithstanding the difficulties posed by the global pandemic.