The Irish Government has reportedly put down a deposit for a new medium transport aircraft for the Irish Air Corps, which will be used to carry troops and vehicles on foreign military missions and rescue Irish citizens in need.
The deposit was paid on December 23 by the Irish Department of Defence, and the final cost is expected to be around €50 million.
The original contract was for two replacement Casa maritime patrol planes for the Air Corps, which are set to arrive soon and will be used for patrolling the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone and monitoring fishing and other ship movements. The Irish Air Corps had also been evaluating the purchase of additional C-295 planes for general transport duties as of June 2022.
According to Thejournal.ie, the decision to fast-track the tendering process with an amendment followed discussions about the need to make progress on one of the key recommendations from the Commission on the Defence Forces.
A source stated that the decision to go with the Casa 295 cargo variant means that Air Corps pilots will not need extensive training to “convert” their qualifications for flying the aircraft.
The final decision was reportedly made under the new Minister for Defence, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, and the government is said to have been eager to finalise the procurement before the end of 2022, with an amendment made to an existing tender with Airbus. The issue of Ireland’s lack of large military transport planes was brought to light following the mission to rescue Irish citizens in Kabul in 2021.