Dáil Éireann - Volume 606 - 29 September, 2005

Written Answers - Defence Forces Equipment.

  55. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for [1097] Defence the implications for Ireland’s military procurement of the May 2005 decision by EU defence ministers that the next generation of armoured fighting vehicles must not be developed in separate national programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25796/05]

  Mr. O’Dea: At the meeting of the steering board of the European Defence Agency on 23 May 2005, among other matters, a report was made to the board regarding developments in the European defence equipment market with specific reference to armoured fighting vehicles. The agency, having completed initial analysis of the market, reported that there were up to 23 separate programmes currently ongoing or planned with regard to the development and acquisition of such vehicles and that there was significant potential for rationalisation and consolidation in the market so as to achieve greater efficiencies in the development and manufacture of such vehicles.

The steering board agreed that more co-operation was urgently needed and instructed the agency to work with governments planning for next generation AFVs to ensure that they would have as much in common as possible. This could include pooling efforts and resources on new technologies and possibly collaborative programmes. The essential effort in this regard is to achieve improved economies of scale from the collaborative efforts of member states and also to potentially improve the capability of vehicles through more effective expenditure of existing or planned research and technology investment.

Participation in any EDA programme is a matter for each member state. The EDA does not have authority to force states into any particular programme. The discussion at the board meeting in May has no direct implications for Ireland’s military procurement. However, I would expect that rationalisation and consolidation of development and procurement of defence equipment generally should deliver greater efficiencies and improved capabilities for our current level of ongoing investment in equipment for the Defence Forces. The EDA and the participating member states, have similar ambitions regarding their own investment in defence equipment.