Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 01 February, 2007

Written Answers. - Defence Forces Equipment.

Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Defence the changes made to the clothing, equipment, personal body armour and protective gear made available to individual members of the Defence Forces over the past few years; the way the equipment compares with that available to troops in other armies across the EU. [2793/07]

  Mr. O’Dea: The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces continues to be a key focus for me as Minister for Defence. Significant investment has taken place in recent years throughout all facets of the Defence Forces and I will continue the good work in that regard.

In recent years a particular focus of the investment has been on equipment for the individual soldier. In this regard the introduction of the DPM Uniform with the provision of a full outfit of matching clothing for the individual soldier was a significant milestone for the Defence Forces. The introduction of these new uniforms has proved both practical and economical and has been an asset to the Defence Forces in their many operations.

In addition significant work has been carried out in recent years on the acquisition of an Integrated Protection and Load Carrying System for individual soldiers. This system includes Body Armour, Helmets, Back Packs (Rucksacks) and Battle Vests. The position with regard to the acquisition of these items is as follows:

8000 units of body armour for the individual soldier on operational duties have been delivered. The new body armour provides significantly greater protection, comfort and coverage than the old model as well as a doubling of the range of sizes available. The total value of the order was in the region of €8m.

12,000 helmets have been delivered. The value of the order was circa. €2.5m.

12,000 rucksacks have been ordered at a total cost of €3m, delivery will take place in 2007.

To complete the modern integrated protection and load carrying system, one other [1351] competition is currently in train for the acquisition of 12,000 Battle Vests used for the carriage by the individual soldier of essential items such as ammunition, personal radio, water and ancillary equipment. An order will be placed later this year for these items.

The personal equipment which the individual soldier in the Defence Forces has at his/her disposal for operational use both at home and overseas is second to none and compares very favourably with the equipment in use by other Countries. I will continue the ongoing investment in equipment for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to ensure that the most modern and up to date equipment is available for Defence Force’s personnel.