Reading about some of the over-priced nonsense the military buys is maddening – but could you make better choices? In the third part of our series we burdened Thomas Newdick with the daunting task of re-equipping the air arms of a notionally oil-rich Ireland. Would his notional air force be combat effective? Good value for money? Most importantly, would it be stylish?
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Air Force Procurement
Head of procurement: Thomas Newdick
Occupation: Editor of Air Forces Monthly
Nation to defend: Ireland
Year: 2018. In this thought experiment Ireland has found massive oil reserves. Oil rich and with a new government, Ireland massively expands their previously modest air force.
Glider trainer: Not necessary
Twin-engined prop trainer: Embraer Phenom (12)
Jet/Turboprop/LIFT trainer: Pilatus PC21 (100), Yakovlev Yak-130 (60)
Tankers & Transport
Light tactical: Modernised Antonov An–2 Colt (40), Alenia C-27Js Spartans (18)
Medium: Ilyushin Il-76MF (20) (re-engined with PS90)
Strategic transport: Boeing C-17 Globemaster III (12)
Tanker: Ilyushin Il-78 (re-engined with PS90) (12) – also used as Aer Lingus freighters
Hack: Aforementioned An-2s
VVIP transport: Convair 880 (1) (in emerald green scheme with silver shamrock on the top)
Presidential/Governmnetal Transport: Lockheed JetStar (5)
(with modern engines)
(specify chosen munitions)
Fighter/Attack: Rafale M (140) with Meteor, Python 5, Hammer, Brimstone, ASMPA, SCALP, Kh-31ARM,
Attack, SEAD and long range interception: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (48), AIM-120, AIM-9X, SDB and JDAM
Close Air Support: Northrop Grumman B-1B Lancer (31) with all weapons integrated on USAF examples
Fixed-wing COIN and FAC: Super Tucano (24)
CSAR: Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk (12)
Trainer:Kazan Ansat (24)
Light transport: Mi-35 updated by ATK (36)
Medium transport: 24 Kamov Ka-29
Heavy transport: Mil Mi-26s (12)
Attack: AH-64E Apache Guardian (48)
Search & rescue/ASW: Kamov Ka-27 (48)
Intelligence & surveillance
AWACS/AEW:: Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye (10) (Joint force Air Corps/Navy)
ASW: EADS CASA C-295 (12)
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR): GlobalEye (12) (ON ORDER)
Maritime Patrol: MQ-4 Triton (4)
Reconnaissance: Rafale M force is equipped with TALIOS
Fixed-wing jet: Silver Swallows with Fouga CM.170 Magister (4), Rafale Trio (one green, one white, and one orange)
Rotorcraft: Alouette III
Historical flight: Supermarine Seafire
Based on three carrier. Assets pooled with Air Corps.
Fighter/attack: Rafale M (fleet shared with Air Corps)
AEW: Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye (10)
Tanker: Rafale are equipped with buddy-buddy tanks
Helicopters: Pooled Helix fleet (see above)
Misc Aircraft category
Air ambulance/police: Airbus Helicopters H135 (20)
Mountain rescue: Sikorsky H-60 Blackhawk (12)
Coastguard: Sikorsky S-92 (10)
Air defence systems
S-400 Triumf, 2K22 Tunguska
Air force defence regiment
Camouflage: East German rain
Standard weapon: SIG SG 550
Sidearm: Škorpion vz. 61
Light support weapon: M249 light machine gun (LMG)
Heavy machine-gun: .50 cal Browning M2-HQCB
Sniper rifle: Sako TRG
Cost effectiveness & sense
The new Irish Air Corps/Navy Joint Force is the most powerful and best equipped air force in Europe. The vast prize tag is paid for by the new oil money. For Ireland’s current defence posture the procurement makes little sense, so it is likely this heralds the coming of a New Ireland, a powerful player on the world stage. It is extremely effective but very expensive, quite what the threat that merits this huge military investment is anyone’s guess — certainly a strong enough force to keep Iceland on its toes.
The Irish government have made some very surprising moves! Spurning British or British-involved aircraft was perhaps to be expected, but turning to Russia was a dramatic surprise. The Ilyushin transport and tanker fleet, combined with the large rotorcraft and trainer order show an unlikely new international relationship. The large US deals ties fit comfortably with Ireland’s long friendship with the United States. Becoming both an operator of intercontinental heavy bombers and ordering three supercarriers may alarm other countries in Europe.
The luxury Convair 880 selection was brilliant as was the JetStar fleet, the return of the charismatic Magister simply divine. Scoring highly in this round.
The reopening of the F-22 production line for 48 aircraft? The Russian equipment? The B-1Bs? Utterly and wonderfully bananas. But not impossible
A strong score here. Going from from a handful of PC-9s, the Irish Air Corps is now significantly more powerful than its neighbour Britain.
Total score: 306/500
Air Forces Monthly is the World’s No. 1Military aviation Magazine
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