Ireland needs new combat aircraft squadron

In a report published on February 9, the Commission on the Defence Forces (CoDF) has called on the Irish government to invest in the acquisition of a combat aircraft squadron as part of a national Air Defence Plan.

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Ireland needs new combat aircraft squadron 01 The Irish Air Corps have no fighter aircraft or interceptors to speak of, only a small fleet of Swiss-made Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainers armed with heavy machine guns and unguided rockets unsuitable for intercepting any aircraft flying at high altitudes (Picture source: Irish Defence Forces)

Developing full spectrum defence capabilities to protect Ireland and its people to an extent comparable to similar sized countries in Europe. LOA 3 would require Ireland to develop significantly strengthened capabilities in all domains, with commensurately higher levels of defence spending – of the order of two and a half to three times overall defence spending in recent years.

These significantly stronger capabilities would also allow for a deeper engagement in international peace and humanitarian missions and would deliver benefits in terms of aid to the civil power (ATCP) and aid to the civil authority (ATCA) capacity. The capabilities for LOA 3 could involve, inter alia:

-  Developing a substantial mechanised component of the Army offering state of the art force protection, communications, ISTAR and firepower;
-  A balanced fleet of at least 12 naval ships, supported by appropriate technology;
-  Air combat and intercept capability through the acquisition of a squadron of combat aircraft;
-  Combat aircraft, pilots and support personnel to provide organic intra‐theatre mobility based on tactical transport helicopters to support overseas deployment of air assets;
-  Maturing a Joint Cyber Defence Command; and
-  The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) having an organic self‐sustainment capability which would include dedicated combat helicopter assets.