Firstly, it seems to be a common perception that defence spending is "deadweight" spending, in the sense that there is very little return on it; that, added to the fact that the defence minister is usually relatively junior means that the Dept of Finance finds it relatively easy to kill defence spending plans. A further problem is that it's often seen in isolation, rather than in the context of other areas and policy goals.
We are actually one of the wealthiest EU nation states and yet, our defence spending is among the smallest, particularly as a proportion of GNP. We expect to have a voice heard at the highest level, particularly in areas of security and foreign policy, yet we punch way below our weight in terms of the contribution we make; we lay claim to a huge coastal limit, yet in the event of any serious catastrophe, we have to call in the RAF and RN. We won't participate in any EU defence pact (although in fairness, that is changing slightly, with possible participation in the proposed Rapid Reaction Force); it's not based on principle, like Sweden's or Switzerland's neutrality; it's just an unwillingness to take defence seriously. The problem is, of course, that by the time a serious threat presents itself, it's often too late.
Of course, I want to focus on the IAC here, but I'd also like to look at the possibility of a naval aviation detachment, which could be charged with crewing ship based helicopters; Sweden, among other countries, has high speed vessels with helicopters; this would be very useful in a variety of roles.
One possibility I'd like to look at in particular is having an air force of a neutral foreign country set up a training base here; Singapore is one that jumps to mind: tiny country, limited space for training (current done in Oz), but very good and growing air force. Here's where the association with other govt policies comes in as well; the govt, in its Asia Strategy Report, wants to develop trade links with Asia - a military alliance with a country like Singapore is a very good way to build that; the RSiAF could base trainers, even fast jets here (on rotations, so to speak) and in the event of a serious terror threat, they could also be deployed to take protective action. Irish crews could also be trained in the maintenance of the aircraft and possibly even pilot training.
In a European context, I would strongly advocate participation in the WEU and stronger links with other military arms; the IAC's transport contingent could be improved - perhaps EU assistance to buy C-295 or C-27 troop carriers? Then there is surveillance acft to look at and although these could be provided by a WEU partner country, it's important that home grown competence in these areas is developed.
I think one of the key challenges will be to take on the perception that Defence is somehow a "dirty word" - seedy, even morally questionable; there'll be all these comments about how we should be putting money into hunger and fighting AIDS etc (all of which I'm in favour of, don't get me wrong), BUT a government has a primary duty to defend its country and people. Defence in Ireland has always taken a back seat, with the results that we now see - our air defences being in the hands of the PC9s. Nice aircraft, but hardly a front line fighter. If we get a time warp that takes us back to the '40s, they'll be great against the Me-209s.
Let's share some ideas; we have a well trained and highly professional Air Corps and as a modern, developed country, we should have a modern, well equipped air force, capable to serving our interests over a wide variety of skill-sets and competences. Time to take defence seriously ...
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In reality, we missed the boat many years ago in terms of having a self defence capability, and, in fairness we don't need it now.
The latest political noises have been in terms of joining the Scandihooligans on EU missions & emergency humanitarian response missions (i.e. the boy scout brigade)
In terms of aircraft to support these missions, C 295 & C27's are fine aircraft but are sod all worth to you in terms of operating into a strange field. The C130 (L100) is as global a currency as the Dollar -everyone else we would be working with will have this equip thus the tech support would exist regardless where it was deployed. I make this statement based on many years experience in this area.
Its up to the Aer Corps to make the case...
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Or building a brand new modern military airbase somewhere a bit futher to the west.
But if that were to happen, I do not belive Bal' would not become a second Dublin airport, it would more then likely be wasted for affordable houseing or some other moronic politicaly driven thing.
Now that would be squandering.
Government aircraft - would there be an downside to transferring them to a government controlled civil AOC rather than military and operated by a civil body?
Baldonnel - call it "Dublin-Stansted". It's right near the railway line, the N7 and the Outer Ring. Build a Stan-Shed and offer it to FR, Easy and the other locos. Make DUB "Dublin-Heathrow" but progressively rebuilt to modern standards. If this had been done a few years ago we wouldn't need the mad panic building at DUB.
Equipment - rotary rotary rotary. Consider a fleet of something like EH101, SAR birds, mintrans/medevac birds, trooplift birds. C-130J is a huge commitment and not cheap either. Buy-in to an uplift scheme like SALIS would be better perhaps.
Moving to NOC is out due to weather, SNN could certainly be explored though.
Base role stated (in the press) for the AW139?s is ARW mobility so basing in the Curragh would make sense. Allouettes were based in Monaghan during the ?troubles? so there shouldn?t be any precedent issues there.
Transferring Official Gov tsp to the civil register would open a can of worms?
I still think that the only way the mil can implement the political undertakings vis a vis external co-operation is by C-130, given that money is not a problem it has to be a J.
http://www.postandcourier.com/assets/we ... 12/22/2006
pretty cool all the same...
As to fast jets, while I think a good case can be made for a light interceptor jet, like the Hawk, MB339 or L159, I just can't see it happening. Mind you, in fairness to the govt, they have invested quite heavily in the helicopter force and that has to be praised.
As to the future of the MATS, the Gulfie is now 14 (?) years old. It wouldn't surprise me if, in the next Dail, a decision is made to replace it; most like option? Airbus A318 Elite or A319CJ.
Do they really need all that space all the time? wouldn't they be better off with several smaller bizjets?
(of course there will be FF'rs who will advocate an A380 for Bertie if he pulls it off again...)
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