New fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter for Ireland’s Garda Air Support Unit

Ireland's Minister for Justice Simon Harris announced on January 3 that €21.5m will be invested into the Garda Air Support Unit (GASU) for an additional helicopter and new fixed-wing aircraft.

The new, yet undefined fixed-wing aircraft will be another high-wing twin-engine aircraft and will replace the current Britten-Norman BN-2T Islander - serial 254 (c/n 4008). This will be purchased using the Brexit Adjustment Reserve with the rationale to enhance the GASU's ability to support policing on the ground, security, and surveillance operations.

One of Irelands GASU aircraft airborne on operation
One of the Irish GASU's H135 helicopters is seen airborne during an operation. GASU

The GASU will also procure an additional H135 helicopter, increasing the unit's already established fleet to three. It will be equipped with the suitable integrated police mission equipment and is expected to be operational later this year. The new fixed-wing aircraft is scheduled to enter operational service in 2024.

These purchases are being made to provide vital support to the security of Ireland and to offer capabilities to aid missions such as counter-terrorism, organised crime, border patrol and human/drug trafficking, among other criminal activities.

Commenting on the move, Harris said: "The Garda Air Support Unit does vital work to combat criminal activity and protect the public. This new, state-of-the-art plane and helicopter will significantly boost the State’s aerial support and ability to uphold national security.

"The allocation of this additional funding is further evidence of the government’s commitment to provide An Garda Síochána with the resources it needs to keep us safe.”