Ireland considering procurement of fighter jets

Six RAF Typhoons headed towards counties Derry and Donegal to intercept these Russian Tupolev aircraft on March 7th, forcing them to alter course. Photograph: RAF/PA Wire

Last March, a number of Russian Tupolev TU-95 “Bear” bombers, also used as long-range maritime patrol planes, entered Irish airspace.

The Ireland has a small defence budget which exceeds €1 billion next year, after the Department of Defence was granted an extra €32.3 million in Budget 2020. Ireland mostly relying on European countries to intercept Russian Tupolev aircrafts over its sovereign airspace, — Russia reportedly violated Irish airspace multiple times last year and this year.

This year alone six Royal Air Force Typhoons were scrambled from bases in Scotland and England and headed towards counties Derry and Donegal to intercept, forcing them to alter course.

The Government is considering the purchase of military jet aircraft that would have the capacity to intercept high-altitude planes and fully police Irish skies.

A new five-year Defence Forces investment strategy document has said that “future projects at a preplanning stage” include the potential for “air combat interceptors”.

Such aircraft are designed to scramble quickly when there is a need to intercept unwelcome or unidentified planes which could include foreign military or hijacked airliners.

Although no decisions have been made on whether to pursue such high-end military hardware, it would require a major financial commitment potentially running into hundreds of millions of euro.

Expensive ground radar equipment would also be required to detect encroaching traffic in Irish airspace.

“Consideration of Air Combat Interceptors would be dependent on additional funding,” the Defence Forces – Equipment Development Plan 2020-24 document, published on Friday, according to Irish Times.

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