The Irish Air Corps is to replace its aged fleet of Cessna FR172H utility aircraft with a trio of Pilatus PC-12NGs, with the new assets to be introduced from next year.
Valuing the purchase at about €32 million ($39 million) including adaptations, the Irish defence department says the PC-12NGs "will be equipped for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, logistics support and transport, and medical evacuation/air ambulance taskings".
It says: "The first two aircraft will be delivered in 2019, and the third in 2020." The PC-12NGs will be operated from Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel.
The single-engined turboprops will replace five Cessnas in operational use since 1972. The Irish Air Corps describes the roles performed by the current type as including monitoring and surveillance.
Flight Fleets Analyzer records 67 PC-12/NGs as being in active service with military operators, from a global fleet of almost 1,500 of the Swiss-built type. It shows current users as including Afghanistan (18), Bulgaria (1), Finland (6), Iraq (5) and South Africa (1), plus the US Air Force (35) and US Navy (1).
Fielding successors for the Irish Air Corps' aged Cessnas is part of a wider investment in defence planned by Dublin over the period to 2021. This will also include selecting replacements for its two Airbus Defence & Space CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft, which entered service in 1994.