The White Paper covers the three branches of the Defence Forces, the Army, Air Corps and the Naval Service, all of which outline new equipment platforms to meet the demands of security challenges, including the defence contribution to international peace and security.
In the case of the Naval Service, following the existing fleet replacement programme by a trio of newbuild OPV90 (i.e. 'Beckett') class vessels, a further ageing trio of ships, the flagship (L.E. Eithne (HPV), L.E. Orla and L.E. Ciara, both (CPV's) are to be withdrawn.
These patrol vessels will be replaced in this continuation to upgrade the fleet of the Naval Service with three newbuilds. One of these newbuilds will be a Multi Role Vessel (MRV) as referred briefly in yesterdays coverage of the White Paper.
For further details of the newbuilds programme, extracts from the White Paper can be read below.
In light of operational demands, the maintenance of a modern eight-ship Naval 29 Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.
Flotilla is a minimum requirement. When completed, the current ship replacement programme will have replaced three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs). However, there is a requirement to replace a further three Naval Service vessels [one Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV) and two Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPVs)] that have, or are reaching the end of their lifespan in the coming years. These are set out below. In addition, there is a requirement to maintain and upgrade vessels having regard to emerging operational requirements and changes in technology.
In the event of additional funding becoming available, beyond that required to maintain existing capabilities, the acquisition of additional ships is a priority for the Naval Service.
Helicopter Patrol Vessels (HPV)
The LÉ Eithne, which is the current flagship and a HPV, will be replaced by a multi-role vessel (MRV). Whilst this ship will not carry a helicopter, it will be enabled for helicopter operations and will also have a freight carrying capacity. It is the Government's intent that this new vessel will provide a flexible and adaptive capability for a wide range of maritime tasks, both at home and overseas.
Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs)
The current ship replacement programme will have replaced three OPVs bringing to five the number of modern OPVs in the Naval Service flotilla. The final ship in this current replacement programme is scheduled for delivery in 2016.
Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPV)
The two existing Coastal Patrol Vessels, the LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla, are due for replacement in the coming years. These ships will be replaced with similar vessels with countermine and counter-IED capabilities. This will provide an enhanced capability for the Naval Service in meeting a broad range of ongoing requirements and contingencies, including the protection of Ireland's vital sea lanes of communication.
To read the entire White Paper, this can be downloaded by clicking HERE.