http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/ ... e_id=14965
"TWO more high-tech Anglo-Italian armed helicopters are to be bought for the Air Corps in a ?24m deal in the latest revamp of the force's outmoded fleet.
Defence Minister Willie O'Dea is to indicate that an option to buy two more AW-139 helicopters, which will have a primary role of operating and training with Ireland's Special Forces, is to be taken up before the end of the year.
The move comes after the first two of four AW-139 helicopters ordered in an earlier ?48m contract were shown to the media last week.
One of the helicopters displayed at a blustery Baldonnel was kitted out in a Special Forces role with two GPMG machine guns manned by air gunners, and seats for eight Army Rangers along with abseiling equipment.
A second helicopter was configured as a 15-seat transporter. Two other helicopters ordered as part of the earlier contract will be delivered in spring next year.
The Minister resisted the urge to sit behind a machine gun and instead went for a flight in the new aircraft. He will announce that a down payment will be made on the two optional aircraft before the end of the year.
Otherwise Ireland would miss its production slot for the AW-139, which is the best-selling helicopter in the medium twin-engine class in the world, and additional Irish aircraft would not be built until 2009/2010.
The Air Corps is the first military force in the world to operate the AW-139".
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