Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 17 November, 2004
Written Answers. - Defence Forces Equipment.
Mr. Wall Mr. Wall
80. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding the tendering process for the acquisition of six new helicopters for the Air Corps; when he expects the process to be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28839/04]
Mr. O’Dea Mr. O’Dea
Mr. O’Dea: The procurement process for the acquisition of new helicopters for the Air Corps is progressing well. This major investment programme involves the acquisition of six helicopters — two light utility helicopters primarily for Air Corps crew training purposes and four larger utility helicopters, with the option of two further such helicopters — for use in support of the Army and for other ancillary uses such as air ambulance. The new aircraft will replace the current fleet of Dauphin, Alouette and Gazelle helicopters.
The tender competition was advertised in the Official Journal of the European Communities on 29 May 2004. The closing date for the receipt of tenders was Tuesday, 3 August 2004. Valid tenders were received from three companies. The companies involved are Eurocopter, Sikorsky and AgustaWestland.
A comprehensive tender evaluation process is ongoing at present. A project team comprising officials from my Department and Air Corps and Army personnel is undertaking the evaluation. This will, of necessity, take some time to complete. It is expected, however, that the Department will be in a position to place a contract before the end of the year. The Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to give any details of the costs of the helicopters at this stage given that the evaluation process is ongoing.
The two light utility helicopters will be operated by the Air Corps primarily in the military pilot and aircrew training role. Primary taskings for the helicopters will include pilot training, instructor training and instrument flight training.
The four utility helicopters will be operated by the Air Corps in a general purpose military operational and training role. They will not be dedicated for use by any particular element of the Defence Forces. Primary taskings for the utility helicopter will include training and operations with special forces, security and aid to the civil power, military exercises, infantry interoperability training and limited troop transport. The helicopters will have the capability of lifting some Defence Forces equipment such as artillery pieces but will not have the capability to lift heavy equipment. They will also be used to perform air ambulance, inland search and rescue, aid to the civil community and VIP transport tasks.
The contract for the supply of the helicopters will be awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender applying the following award criteria, which are listed in order of priority: functional characteristics, operational suitability and technical merit; maintenance, technical support and after sales service; tender prices; life cycle costs over 20 years; training packages offered; warranties offered; and delivery period.
The procurement of modern light utility and utility helicopters will provide a significant boost to the Air Corps. In that regard, every effort will be made to ensure that the process moves along as quickly as possible to ensure that the new helicopters are available to the Air Corps at the earliest possible date.
Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 66.
Dáil Éireann 592 Written Answers. Defence Forces Equipment.