Lieutenant General Sean Clancy was speaking at a ceremony at Baldonnel Aerodrome in Co Dublin marking 100 years since the handover of Baldonnel from the RAF to the Irish air service.
The ceremony was also attended by representatives from the RAF and the British Army.
As part of the event, Irish Air Corps personnel marched through the original main gate of the aerodrome.
— Irish Air Corps (@IrishAirCorps) May 3, 2022
The handover ceremony comes during a pivotal moment for the Irish Defence Forces after a commission recommended major upgrades and reforms.
The Commission on the Defence Forces earlier this year warned that continuing “business as usual” will leave Ireland without a credible military capability to protect the country, its people and its resources for any sustained period.
The war in Ukraine has focused minds on Irish investment in national security and renewed debates about the policy of military neutrality.
Mr Clancy told those in attendance on Tuesday that the world is “witnessing the shattering of peace in Europe”.
“The people and the state of Ukraine have been subjected to an illegal, unjustified, unprovoked and immoral attack.”
The top defence official spoke of the “complex set of challenges that the world faces”.
“This is characterised by overt and more common breaches of what we regard as a rule-based international order.”
“All of this points to the necessity today more than ever to have a fit-for-purpose military here in this state.”
Mr Clancy directly addressed the recommendations of the Commission on the Defence Forces, which the Government has largely accepted.
“Continuing the status quo is simply not credible. It is not an option,” he said.
“We will not be found wanting in preparing the Defence Forces and the Air Corps for the future in a manner that maximises the potential of this report.”
During the ceremony, a wreath was also laid to commemorate all those who lost their lives in service to the Air Corps.