The Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., visited Casement Aerodrome this morning to mark the arrival of three new Pilatus PC-12 NG Spectre Aircraft. The Minister was accompanied by the Department of Defence Secretary General, Jacqui McCrum and Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, and was met by General Officer Commanding the Air Corps, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor and members of the team involved in delivering the Project.

The contract for the supply of the aircraft was awarded to Pilatus in December 2017 following an open tender competition. The new aircraft, which replace the five Cessna FR172H aircraft purchased for the Air Corps in 1972, are equipped for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) taskings, logistics support including transport of Defence Forces troops and equipment, and medical evacuation/air ambulance taskings.

Speaking at the event, Minister Coveney said:

The arrival of these aircraft is a great boost to the Air Corps and I am personally delighted to see it come to fruition. These aircraft will provide a versatile capability to the Air Corps and will be capable of operating in various roles on a 24/7 basis in all types of weather conditions”

Since the arrival of the aircraft on Thursday 10th September, the aircraft have undergone a series of tests and inspections. Further flight and equipment testing will take place over the coming weeks before the aircraft are fully accepted and ready for operations.

The Minister also said:

The investment of over €43m in these aircraft is an indication of the Government’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that all branches of the Defence Forces are appropriately equipped to deliver a range of flexible military capabilities to meet the roles assigned by Government.

In his concluding remarks, the Minister commended the project team and their counterparts in Pilatus Aircraft Limited for ensuring delivery of the aircraft, notwithstanding the difficulties posed by the global pandemic.


In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €113 million for 2020, an increase of €7 million on the 2019 NDP allocation. The NDP provides for a total of €541 million over the period 2018 to 2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to continue the programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years. The replacement of the Air Corps Cessna aircraft as well as the replacement of the CASA 235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft are among the projects included for funding.

PC-12NG Statistics

Length14.4 metres
Wingspan16.28 metres
Height4.26 metres
Max Cruise Speed528 Kilometres Per Hour
CommunicationsComprehensive Military Communications Package
PayloadUp to 9 passengers or 1,200 kg or 2x stretcher patients
RangeUp to 2,900 km
RolesTransport, Logistics, ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance), MEDEVAC


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