Irish Defence Forces
Defence Forces

Defence action plan: Complex radar project 'won't be delivered until 2028'

The Journal has learned that the Detailed Action Plan document has been presented to Government.

DEFENCE OFFICIALS HAVE told Government that such is the scale of the primary radar project to monitor Irish skies and seas it will now not be delivered until 2028.

The Journal has learned that the Detailed Action Plan document has been presented to Government and it outlines the next phase in the modernisation of the Irish Defence Forces. 

It is the first major work by Brian Molloy, the military’s newly appointed head of transformation. 

Molloy’s role is to implement the High Level Action Plan devised to push through the change needed to bring Irish army, navy and Air Corps up to the required standard as set out by a major report into the Irish Military. 

That report is the Commission on the Defence Forces which was a Government commissioned report by security and military experts which recommended a complete modernisation of the forces. 

The Department of Defence said today: “The Secretary General [Jacqui McCrum] is currently working closely with the Chief of Staff in terms of agreeing and bringing forward a proposed approach, for approval by the Tánaiste, to delivery and governance of all aspects in relation to the Military radar capability development.

“This is likely to be one of the biggest defence capability projects ever undertaken in the history of the State, both in terms of complexity and cost.”

There are more than 130 recommendations and one of the major projects is the primary radar plan to place surveillance equipment at strategic locations across the country to, not only monitor Irish skies, but also to monitor shipping traffic. 

The state-of-the art technology utilised by the radar would be able to detect jets and drones at a range of altitudes. It could also be used to detect low-flying aircraft being used by drug gangs. 

It is understood that Department of Defence (DOD) procurement officials and military assistants have traveled to a number of locations in Europe to examine possible systems. As revealed by The Journal previously the system is likely to cost upwards of €300m.

However, such is the scale of the project, that it will take five years to get to the point of an estimated delivery date of 2028.

There are a number of human resources measures accepted and their delivery date will be in the coming months and next year. One of those initiatives will be to carry out internal morale reviews to find issues before they develop into major crises.

In September 2024 it is anticipated that all blocks will be removed to allow all Defence Forces personnel benefit from the European Working Time Directive. 

This has been campaigned for by representative bodies PDFORRA and the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) for several years and is seen as a key solution to ongoing retention problems. 

Another measure is to remove impediments to the promotion of women to senior ranks and it is anticipated to be completed by January 2024. 

There will also be a study on grooming standards to better facilitate genders and a group established to look at how better to include diversity. A female mentoring programme will be in place by October.

The replacement of the Irish Air Corps’ helicopter  fleet will take place in 2028. 

There will be a project to completely redesign the structures of the military and that will be carried out by the Defence Forces but with assistance from international experts – it is anticipated this will begin in December 2023. 

By June 2024 a plan will be in place to allow increased direct entry recruitment to fill specialist positions.  

Jacqui McCrum, the General Secretary of the DOD and Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lt General Seán Clancy will appear before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence this afternoon. 

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