Irish Air Corps centenary coverage (March 21-26)

With the Irish Air Corps (IAC) celebrating 100 years of military aviation on March 23, Key.Aero will be marking the occasion throughout next week (March 21-26) with a special series of content.

Covering all fixed and rotary-wing platforms operated by the IAC, the series will cover the history of the Corps and its future plans.

Platforms to be covered include the newest piece of kit for the IAC, the Pilatus PC-12, which plays an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role in the Irish defence structure. The fleet of four’s mission role, the aircraft’s capabilities and how they fit the IAC’s present and future requirements, will be among topics discussed.

The IAC uses its Pilatus PC-12 fleet in an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role
The IAC uses its Pilatus PC-12 fleet in an intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role KEY-Josef Campion

The soon to be replaced CASA CN-235 will also be featured, expressing its role in keeping Irish borders safe during maritime patrol operations. The fleet of two – which will be replaced very soon with the newer CASA C-295 – will be analysed and we’ll consider what additional capabilities the newer variant will bring to the Irish and if a possibility of a larger fleet of transport aircraft is on the way.

The CASA CN-295 is used by the IAC for maritime patrol operations. The fleet of two are due to be replaced by the more modern C-295.
The CASA CN-295 is used by the IAC for maritime patrol operations. The fleet of two are due to be replaced by the more modern C-295. KEY-Josef Campion

For those interested in rotary aircraft, a helicopter focus will be available during the week, highlighting the mission roles of both the AgustaWestland AW139 and Eurocopter EC135 play in the Irish defence. We will cover the helicopters’ role in aerial firefighting, helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), special operations and anti-terrorism missions. Again, a future focus will be included, analysing the prospects of these two types and what could replace them in the diverse roles they both play.

Like the AW139, the EC135 is used for a variety of roles including aerial firefighting, helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), special operations and anti-terrorism missions
Like the AW139, the EC135 is used for a variety of roles including aerial firefighting, helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), special operations and anti-terrorism missions KEY-Josef Campion

A short feature will be produced on the sole VIP aircraft of the IAC, the Learjet 45. We will cover what platform the aircraft replaced, the capabilities it provides, and also what abilities were lost upon its arrival.

The Irish Air Corps operates a single Learjet 45 for VIP transport
The Irish Air Corps operates a single Learjet 45 for VIP transport KEY-Josef Campion

Finally, the IAC’s only ‘attack aircraft’ will be featured during the week. We will examine the role the turboprop Pilatus PC-9 performs in the IAC, from training its brand-new student pilots and more, while considering whether the IAC needs fixed wing supersonic fighters to protect itself. With the Irish Defence commission recently being published we will highlight the pros and cons to Ireland receiving fixed wing fighters, what they could be and what that would mean for Irish defence.

The IAC operate a fleet of eight Pilatus PC-9 'attack aircraft'
The IAC operate a fleet of eight Pilatus PC-9 turboprops for training all of its pilots and has light attack capabilities. KEY-Josef Campion

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