Royal Brunei Air Force Commander Brigadier General Wardi bin Abd Latip has declared that the RBAF is looking to acquire a Lockheed Martin C-130J. Plans for the acquisition were revealed in an announcement by the Chief at the RBAF’s 48th anniversary celebrations, which were held on the Rimba Air Force Base’s Parade Square on Tuesday, June 24.
The Chief, who was trained at RAF College Cranwell knows a thing or two about transport aircraft. His biography tells us that in early 1997 he was sent to Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in Jakarta to do a conversion Flying training at No.2 Sqn on the Indonesian Air Force CN-235. On successful completion of the conversion training in November 1997, he flew the first CN-235 Twin Engine Military Aircraft to Brunei and established No.5 Sqn Ops Wg, RBAirF which was officially formed on 12 December 1997.
He also added at the announcement that type would enable the RBAF to considerably boost its humanitarian aid efforts in the region. He did not elaborate further and it is unclear whether any negotiations for the purchase have yet taken place. Royal Brunei Armed Forces personnel participate in peacekeeping missions with the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) and it is possible deploying a Hercules on such missions is another reason behind the acquisition.
The Commander also said the RBAF will reach another milestone on August 1, when its first batch of S-70i Black Hawks will be declared fully operational. The first four of the RBAF’s S-70i helicopters were delivered to Brunei on November 27, 2013, with an official acceptance ceremony a week later. As part of a contract signed on December 2, 2011, the RBAF has ordered 12 Black Hawks, with options on a further ten. All of them are being built at PZL Mielec in Poland, where Sikorsky has its S-70i production line. They will replace their eight Bell 212s and six Bo105CBS helicopters in RBAF service. Alan Warnes