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Timor Air Force

The Air Component is indispensable for Timor-Leste’s Armed Forces, due to its efficiency and effectiveness in fulfilling various missions supporting the Light Naval Force as well as the Land Forces, in light of difficult land access resulting from Timor-Leste’s climatic and topographic characteristics.

This component can provide multiple services aimed at rationalising resources and can realistically provide reconnaissance, evacuation and humanitarian aid capabilities in the medium term, carried out through the creation of a group of helicopters and the acquisition of light aircraft of the REIMS CESSNA F406 type for multipurpose use. The concept of their deployment should be defined in accordance with the Operational Concept of the Armed Forces. C–130 will be acquired later on for military and humanitarian purposes. Special consideration can be made within the context of the development of this capability, by integrating it within the Light Naval Forces. Within the context of the future prospects for the development of the Air Force, the air resources can be systematically and interdependently linked to the naval resources.

During the decades of the 1980s and 1990s up to the Asian financial crisis regional air forces acquired modern jets with multiple functions and the capability for air defence, maritime reconnaissance and maritime attack (F-16, FA-18, MiG-29, Su-27 and in the future Su-30). All the air forces of the ASEAN States were equipped with Sidewinder AIM-9 missiles in the 1990s. Electronic warfare capabilities and equipment were also introduced, and SAM and radars acquired. Singapore is the country that has the most sophisticated system of air defence, which operates in three dimensions: Rapier SAM and Blindfire radar covering low altitudes; Hawk SAM covering medium altitudes and Bloodhound Mark 2 SAM for high altitudes. Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia acquired the surface-to-air Rapier missile. Thailand acquired the Redeye, Blowpipe, ASPIDE and ADAT missiles.

In accordance with the latest developments in force modernisation, Indonesia demonstrated its intention to update its arms capability with the purchase of 48 Sukhois from Russia; Australia intends to buy 100 next-generation planes, the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighters). Malaysia, Singapore and China also intend to buy advanced jet aircraft. Indicators that may be considered in terms of an arms race in the region with the objective of protecting and surveillance of (disputed borders) strategic national interest spaces (EEIN).

The primary airport of Timor-Leste is the President Nicolaus Lobito International Airport, otherwise known as Comoro Airport located in the capital city of Dili. Round trip air services to Darwin and Denpasar are available. The 1,850 m (1.15 miles) runway can only accommodate B727 planes and similar category aircrafts. This airport is the only international airport in the country authorized for regular commercial operations on a charter basis; the other international airport, Bacau, requires special approval from the Civil Aviation Department CAD of Timor-Leste.

Bacau Airport was previously the main airport for the Indonesian military, and has a nicer and longer runway, but is poorly placed to be the main international airport. Other airports include Sai (1,050 m sealed runway) (.65 miles) and Oecussi (a gravel runway). All of the airports in the country are owned by the Timorese Government. Air Timor is the only airline in Timor-Leste, operating a single Cessna 208B Grand Caravan [as of 2012].

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Page last modified: 29-09-2016 20:02:10 ZULU