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Defence | Upgrading the Air Corps to ensure regular coastal surveillance

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence the degree to which the Air Corps continues to be upgraded in line with the needs of an island country and the need to ensure regular coastal surveillance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Air Corps Maritime Patrol Squadron carries out aerial surveillance of the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) using the two CASA CN 235 maritime patrol aircraft. These aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and communication equipment which offers aerial assistance to the Naval Service in patrolling the Irish EEZ.  

Following a competitive tender competition in 2019 a contract was awarded to Airbus Defence and Space for delivery of two C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft in 2023 at a cost of some €228 million inclusive of VAT. These aircraft will feature updated and upgraded equipment to ensure that the Air Corps can continue to deliver the required capability required of an island country.  Both aircraft are now at an advanced stage of production with the first aircraft making its first flight in September 2022.  

Following the delivery of the two new C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and a period of training on their use, the new aircraft will take over from the CN235’s fulfilling the Maritime Patrol function.

The Naval Service and the Air Corps provide assistance and support to search and rescue missions on an as available basis, however, the lead agency for search and rescue (SAR) in Ireland’s SAR domain is the Irish Coast Guard.

In terms of fishery protection the Naval Service is tasked with patrolling all Irish waters from the shoreline to the outer limits of the EEZ. These patrols are carried out on a regular and frequent basis and are directed to all areas of Irish waters as necessary. The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority are the competent authority in relation to fisheries control in Ireland’s EEZ.





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