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Irish Defence Forces
Government Jet

State looking to buy a new ten-seater Government jet that can travel long-haul

Micheál Martin says there has been ‘serious issues’ with the current Learjet.

TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has confirmed that he has signed off on the plan to buy a new Government jet. 

The Learjet which is used to fly the Taoiseach and other senior ministers is reaching its natural “end of life cycle”, Martin told the Dáil.

“There have been issues with the Learjet no point saying otherwise. There have been serious issues with it.

“I’m not prepared to stand over it. And in my view, a replacement jet is required,” he said. 

Last year, The Journal reported that the Government was advised that a replacement plane was needed following a number of technical issues with the Learjet. 

The Government jet has suffered technical problems, forcing the Taoiseach at the time to avail of a CASA maritime patrol aircraft to ferry him back from Brussels on one occasion. 

The Air Corps Learjet was purchased in 2004 and has been in operation since then. It only has the capacity to fly to the European region and does not travel long-haul. 

The Tánaiste, who is also the Minister for Defence, said today that he has now approved a recommendation made by officials to purchase a new jet, indicating that the new plane should be able to travel longer distances. 

Government ministers fly on commercial aircraft when traveling to the US, for example.

Ultimately, he said the State needs a replacement aircraft that provides a strategic reach in crisis situations, medical evacuation, as well as ministerial air transport.

Referring to the instance where the Irish Government was scrambling to evacuate people from Afghanistan, Martin said the State was dependent on other governments to help.

He said the plane should be able to get to locations where Irish citizens need to be evacuated quickly.

“That strategic reach is important… the medical transport and medical evacuation is important,” he added.

Benefit ‘future Governments’

He said officials will now move to progress to procurement phase, however, this is set to take between two to three years, according to Government sources.

Martin said he believed now was the time to kick off the procurement process, stating that ”future governments” will benefit from the new aircraft, rather than the current government ministers. 

It is understood that the Government is looking to purchase a ten-seater aircraft. Leasing an aircraft was ruled out due to it costing the taxpayer more money in the long term, it is believed.

While no cost has been attached yet to the new purchase, sources state smaller aircraft cost around €50 million, so the cost of the new ten-seater plane could exceed this amount.

A project team is currently being established and planning for the procurement competition will commence shortly, said Martin.

The procurement process will consider both new and second-hand replacement aircrafts, added the Tánaiste.

The Government once had two jets, but the Gulfstream IV plane was sold in 2017 for €418,000.

There was controversy at the time over the sale price, given that the jet was valued at somewhere in the region of €750,000. It was bought in 1992 for €45 million.

In addition, the Government has also laid down a deposit on a new cargo aircraft for the Irish Air Corps, which would carry troops and vehicles to foreign military missions and rescue stranded Irish citizens.

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