NewsCrime Desk

Gardai to buy 'spy plane' so they can crackdown on criminal gangs

The Gardai are looking to beef up their Air Support Unit
The Gardai are looking to beef up their Air Support Unit

Gardaí are hoping to put a high-tech plane in the sky to help target organised criminal gangs such as the Kinahan cartel as well as any potential threats to the security of the State.

The plane would be used in sophisticated operations targeting drug smuggling, terrorist threats and hunting down criminals in the immediate aftermath of an offence. The aircraft could also be used for covert surveillance operations.

An Garda Siochana issued a tender for a censor-equipped aeroplane which they hope to add to their fleet of planes and helicopters in the Garda Air Support Unit.

The plane will be used  for intelligence gathering as well as airborne tracking in the fight against organised crime gangs including the cartel.

In the tender notice, the force said: “To improve mission effectiveness and resource flexibility, AGS wishes to explore the feasibility and practicality of using a sensor-equipped fixed wing aircraft that can effectively perform these types of missions.”

Currently, various aircraft are used to perform the airborne tracker, ground surveillance and air/ground interdiction missions relating to drug smuggling, detecting crime and mitigating threats to homeland security.

The Garda Air Support Unit fleet, which is operated by members of the Air Corps, is stationed at Baldonnel Aerodrome.

It includes a Pilatus Britten-Norman BN 2T-4S Defender 4000 plane as well as two Eurocopter EC 135 T2s.

The aircraft are fitted with daylight and thermal image cameras mounted on gyro stabilised platforms, search lights, extensive communication suites and microwave downlink/uplink technology.

The deadline for the supplies contract, issued by the Garda Finance and Procurement section, is November 11.