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Royal Brunei Air Force

Capable air assets are essential to the effectiveness of a networked force across the spectrum of potential RBAF operations. They can provide extended range and area coverage, speed of response, and the flexibility to deploy and support the land force, including tactical mobility and re-supply. Aerial surveillance is the foundation for the control of maritime areas and the monitoring of national boundaries.

In 1966, 3 British pilots from the Royal Air Force took over the tasks with three aircrafts namely the 'Whirl Wind'. In 1967, this unit was known as the Helicopter Platoon. Helicopter Platun received the helicopter Jet Ranger Bell 206. The Air Technical Training School was established in 1980. In 1981, the No 2 Squadron was established and equipped with helicopter Bolkow BO 105. The No 3 Squadron was establish in 1982 and equipped with SIAI Marchetti SF260W. The workforce and the aircrafts steadily increased and later known as Air Wing. It was on 01st October 1991, with the consent of His Majesty The Sultan the Air Wing was officially changed to the Royal Brunei Air Force.

In 1997, Royal Brunei Air Force underwent further development in its organisation structure with establishment of few unit such as the No 4 Squadron which was equipped with helicopter Blackhawk S-70A, the No 5 Squadron which was equipped with CN-235 and the Base Defence Squdron. In the same year, the No 3 Squadron received the aircraft Pilatus Mark II. The No 38 Squadron was established in 1999 and equipped with Mistral.

The core of air forces current capability is the tactical surveillance and mobility offered by its fleet of rotary wing aircraft. The existing Blackhawk helicopters offer a valuable capability in terms of speed, tactical range, payload and the deployment of troops. Enhancing their night surveillance capability should be pursued as a matter of priority. The fleet of Bell 212s complements this but has more limited carrying capacity and is reaching end of its operational requirement.

Maintaining the RBAFs rotary wing capacity will be critical to overall operational effectiveness in meeting present and future strategic tasks, both nationally and within the region. Plans should be developed for the phased replacement of the older helicopters in the medium to longer term. Cost effectiveness, including through-life support, may be enhanced by the acquisition of a common platform, albeit with a flexible sensor fit, and the use where possible of commercial rather than full military specifications.

While Brunei Darussalam's defence capabilities are relatively modest in comparison with its neighbours, its commitment to promoting security cooperation and fostering stability in the region and beyond have been clearly demonstrated. The RBAF's medium lift helicopters made a valuable contribution to tactical mobility and resupply in the 2004 tsunami. High readiness assets are assigned to the Joint Force Commander who maintains the national surveillance picture, exercises operational command, and is the initial point of contact for other national and regional forces. The primary force elements currently maintained at full preparedness include four helicopters.

The Government intends to develop the capacity to effectively control the nation's sovereign airspace. An enhanced awareness of airspace activity and the ability to exploit that environment for one's own purposes (including surveillance and combat support), and to respond to airspace intrusions will be essential. These skills are complex. They should be introduced progressively - (i) strengthening the capacity to monitor national airspace; (ii) introducing an effective air defence system suitable to protect vital national assets; and (iii) acquiring a core air combat capability.

Strengthening the RBAF's capacity to make regular, and where appropriate concurrent, contributions to stability operations whether regionally or in support of the UN will be an important aspect of future capability development and deployment planning. The planned upgrading of the helicopter fleet and acquisition of additional fixed wing aircraft will enhance the capacity for tactical mobility and resupply, particularly in response to large scale emergencies.

Purchase of additional fixed wing aircraft with enhanced sensors will transfomn the maritime surveillance capability currently provided by the Air Force's CN-235. The availability of a modular sensor surte capable of being fitted to the new medium lift helicopters. Together, these capabilities will substantially increase the RBAF's ability to conduct surveillance operations throughout the nation's maritime zones and to provide more detailed coverage of specific areas. Priority planned procurements are for UAV's to address major weaknesses in Brunei's maritime domain awareness and land border monitoring capacities and a multi-mission aircraft to provide medium-range lift and maritime surveillance (the C-27 JCA may be a candidate).

The additional fixed wing aircraft will significantly increase overall operational availability and flexibility. It should be: of commercial design, capable of patrolling to the limits of the nations EEZ, and reconfigurable at short notice for surveillance or to deploy up to platoon of infantry and their essential equipment or a mixed stores load; equipped with an all-weather, day/night capable surveillance sensor suite, palate mounted to support both operational flexibility and ease of maintenance; and supportable as far as possible by the national aviation industry.

UAVs have the advantage of being a relatively simple platform that can be equipped with a range of sensors and, if required, loiter at extended ranges. They should be fitted with an all weather, day/night surveillance capability for both maritime and land operations. The UAVs speed of response, area of coverage and flexibility mesh closely with the RBAFs new joint, networked approach to operations. It is, however, a new capability and planning must include the early development of concept of employment together with the associated control and support infrastructure.

The mobility requirements for the RBAF in the national context are primarily tactical. The difficult terrain in much of the country places a premium on movement by air or water. The commitment of forces to cooperative regional activities and to peacekeeping has, however, increased the frequency of strategic deployments. Further extension of the nation's involvement in stability operations will strengthen the need to provide protected mobility for ground forces. Early upgrading of the force's mobility assets is a priority.

Apart from the ground force's fleet of wheeled vehicles, the core mobility assets are the Bell 212 and 214 medium lift helicopters, which are capable of company group lift, and the Navy's landing craft. Those capabilities are essential to the rapid deployment and support of forces operating in the nation's hinterland. They are now reaching operational life-of-type and early replacement is required to support operational reliability and contain maintenance costs.

The acquisition of a strategic transport aircraft remains an important priority for future acquisition. The introduction of a larger fixed wing transport aircaft would provide greater flexibility in the nature and scale of contributions further afield Allied or commercial capabilities will generally be available to support such deployment should the need arise.

Planning for the future upgrading of air defence capabilities and the possible introduction of a Light Fighter Aircraft, while not a capability priority in the short to medium term, would continue to be pursued.

Brunei Air Force

1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2013 2015 2020 2025 2030
Personnel - - - - - - - - - -
Active 300 300 400 1,100 1,100 1,100 1,100 1,100 1,100 1,100
Reserve -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Aircraft Source Inventory
Transport 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Light.. .. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
CN-235-110 INDO -- -- 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Passenger 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
B747-400 US 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Airbus A320 EU 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
B727-200 US 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Gulfstream IV US 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
TRAINING 2 2 6 6 6 4 4 4 4 4
Piston 2 2 6 6 6 4 4 4 4 4
PC-7 Mk II1 SWI -- -- 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
SF-260W1 Warrior ITA 2 2 2 2 2 -- -- -- -- --

Helicopter

GTOW 24 24 28 28 28 28 27 27 27 27
Attack 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Bo-105CB GER 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Transport - Medium 5-ton 15 15 19 19 19 19 18 18 18 18
S-70i International Hawk US -- -- -- -- -- -- 12 12 12 12
S-70A-14 Black Hawk US 2 2 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Bell 214ST US 3 3 3 3 3 3 -- -- -- --
Bell 212 Twin Huey US 10 10 10 10 10 10 -- -- -- --
Light / Utility 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
S-76 Eagle US 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Bell 206B JetRanger US 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Air Defense

.. 12 12 12+ 28 28 28 28 28 28 28
SAM 12 12 12+ 28 28 28 28 28 28 28
Mistral FRA -- -- + 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Rapier UK 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12

    1 - These aircraft have a secondary combat capability.




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Page last modified: 08-05-2013 13:31:05 ZULU