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Government spends €5.2m on new aircraft to help Covid-19 response

The aircraft completed its first mission last weekend, when it delivered a number of Irish tests to a laboratory in Germany.

A PC-12 aircraft
A PC-12 aircraft
Image: Shutterstock/viper-zero

A NEW AIRCRAFT worth more than €5 million has been procured by the government to help the Defence Forces’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PC-12 aircraft, which cost €5.21 million, was procured from Pilatus Aircraft Ltd to “provide the Air Corps with a further agile resource to service urgent requests from agencies of the State”.

The aircraft completed its first mission last weekend, when it delivered a number of Irish tests to a laboratory in Germany.

The purchase was disclosed by Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe in response to a Parliamentary Question by Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon.

“The Pilatus PC-12 aircraft (IRL280) is providing immediate additional fixed wing capacity to meet the unique situation arising from the Covid-19 pandemic,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Defence told TheJournal.ie.

“The aircraft is providing the Air Corps with a further agile resource to service urgent requests from agencies of the State.”

Kehoe revealed that his department has spent almost €6 million to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces was sufficiently maintained to allow it to carry out any tasks that relate to the Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

As well as the aircraft, more than €20,000 has also been spent on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the Air Corps and the Defence Forces’ medical unit.

The PPE includes disposable face masks, full face visors, safety spectacles, hand sanitiser gel, sanitiser sprays, disinfectant wipes and gloves.

Another €15,000 has been spent on audio-visual communications, including on their procurement and installation at McKee Barracks in Dublin.

And four refrigeration units for the storage of strategic ration reserves and 25 decontamination units were also procured for €277,468.

Kehoe added that further orders will be placed as required to ensure that the Defence Forces have the equipment and PPE required to enable them to continue to carry out their roles during the crisis.

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