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Royal Brunei Air Force
Tentera Udara Diraja Brunei
Badge of the Royal Brunei Air Force
Founded1 October 1991; 32 years ago (1991-10-01)
Country Brunei
AllegianceSultan of Brunei
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare, air defence, air policing, search and rescue
Size22 manned aircraft,[1] plus 5 UAVs
Part ofRoyal Brunei Armed Forces
HeadquartersRimba, Brunei-Muara, Brunei
WebsiteOfficial website
Commanders
Commander of the air forceBrig Gen Sharif Ibrahim[2][3]
Deputy commanderCol Haszahaidi Ahmad Daud
Chief of staffLt Col Mohammad Albadii Shahnoel
Sergeant majorWO1 Suridi Ibrahim
Notable
commanders
  • Brig Gen Mahmud Saidin
  • Muhammad Saidin (first Bruneian with fighter pilot's licence)
Insignia
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
Multirole helicopterS-70i, Bell 214ST
Trainer helicopterBell 206
ReconnaissanceRQ-21
TrainerPC-7 Mk.II
TransportCN-235, Airbus C295

The Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) (Malay: Tentera Udara Diraja Brunei, Jawi: تنترا اودار دراج بروني) is the air force of the sultanate of Brunei Darussalam. It is headquartered and mainly based at the Royal Brunei Air Force Base, Rimba, within the Brunei International Airport (BIA).[4] The role of the Royal Brunei Air Force is to defend the national airspace and to provide air policing and surveillance of its land and maritime borders.[5] As of 2024, the Royal Brunei Air Force operates twenty-two manned aircraft[1] and five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

The Royal Brunei Air Force was formed as an independent air force on 1 October 1991; 32 years ago (1991-10-01). It was originally created in 1965; 59 years ago (1965) as the Air Wing of the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment (Malay: Askar Melayu Diraja Brunei – AMDB), the forerunner of today's Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF). The Air Wing of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces had operated helicopters (the Bell 205) since 1966.[4]

History

Brunei helicopter trainees with their Overseas Student Prize trophy at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, 1975.

The Royal Brunei Air Force was established as the Air Wing of the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment in 1965.[6] It was first tasked to fly doctors to rural area with two Sikorsky S-55 aircraft, which was operated by pilots from the Worldwide Helicopter Company. In 1966, the tasks were taken over by three British pilots from the Royal Air Force (RAF) operating three RAF Westland Whirlwind helicopters.[7]

In 1967, the unit was renamed as the Helicopter Platoon, and received five Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopters. The Air Technical Training School was established in 1980. In 1981, No. 2 Squadron was established and equipped with six Bölkow BO105 helicopters.

No. 3 Squadron was established in 1982 and equipped with SIAI-Marchetti SF260s. On 1 September 1983, the No. 2 Wing was founded at what was previously the Air Defence Battery. When Brunei assumed responsibility for its own defence from the United Kingdom in 1984, the Air Wing was expanded. On 1 October 1991, with the consent of The Sultan, the Air Wing was officially renamed the Royal Brunei Air Force.[7] The Air Defence Battery was transferred to the Royal Brunei Air Force on 24 March 1995, and given the new name Air Defence Squadron.

No. 4 Squadron was established in 1997, and was equipped with the Blackhawk S-70A helicopters. No. 5 Squadron was also established in 1997, and was equipped with a CN-235 fixed-wing aeroplane and the Base Defence Squadron. In the same year, 3 Squadron received the Pilatus PC-7 Mk.II training aircraft. No. 38 Squadron was established in 1999, and is equipped with the Mistral surface-to-air missile, following acquisition of its Mistral System.[7] In the same year, Airfield Ground Defence was transferred from the RBAirF's Administration Wing to the Air Regiment.

A brand-new wing called No. 3 Wing was inaugurated on 27 July 2016.[8] In 2019, the RBAirF unveiled the Digital Disruptive Pattern BDU in digital grey colours at the 58th anniversary celebration at the Bolkiah Garrison.[9] As of 28 August 2020, the commander of the Royal Brunei Air Force is Brigadier General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Mohd Sharif bin Dato Paduka Haji Ibrahim.

Following an order made in 2020, the RBAirF acquired five Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from the United States in 2021.[10] They will be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) around Brunei's territorial waters in the South China Sea.[11] The first was unveiled by the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, an event held in June 2021 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces.[11]

A parade was held at the Air Movement Centre (AMC) in celebration of the 55th anniversary on 25 June 2021. Of note was the introduction of Integrator into the RBAirF, a drone unmanned aerial system (UAS).[12] In collaboration with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on 3 December 2021, pilots from the Philippines will carry out their training with the S-70i Blackhawk flight simulator at the Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE) Brunei Multi-Purpose Training Centre (BMPTC).[13]

The decommissioning ceremony of the RBAirF's Bölkow BO105 fleet was held at the AMC within the Air Force Base, Rimba, on 5 February 2022. First introduced as a fleet of six helicopters into No. 2 Squadron, Air Wing in 1981, administered and maintained by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) from the UK until 1993, this ended 41 years' service of the type as latterly operated by No. 1 Wing, Operations Group.[14]

Organisation

The Royal Brunei Air Force is divided into seven (7) Wings:[15][16]

No.15 Squadron's CN-235 at Rimba Air Base.

The Operation Wing consists of four flying wings and three addition units:

Equipment

In 2015, the Commander of the Air Force, Brigadier General Wardi Abdul Latip, stated that the Air force was actively working with Lockheed Martin to purchase a C-130J Super Hercules, with delivery expected in 2018. As of 2024, this plan is yet to materialize. In January 2015, the RBAirF transferred four of its S-70A Black Hawk’s to the Royal Malaysian Air Force.[28][29] In 2014, eight Bell 212 helicopters were retired and decommissioned from service.[18][30]

During Royal Brunei Armed Forces diamond jubilee celebration in 2021, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) programme was launched by the Sultan of Brunei, and a RQ-21 Blackjack model was unveiled by a US company, Insitu to the Sultan. This UAS will be used for maritime security surveillance role.[31] The newly acquired M134D Minigun will be expected to be integrated into the RBAirF later in 2022.[32]

Armaments for the aircraft consist of M134 Minigun's, FZ rockets and unguided air-to-surface SURA rockets.[33][14][34] There have been plans to secure fighter capability by purchasing several BAE Hawk aircraft, but these plans have been delayed on several occasions.[35] In November 2011, the White House announced that a deal has been secured by Sikorsky to sell 12 UH-60Ms to the Royal Brunei Air Force.[36]

Sikorsky S-70i

Aircraft

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Transport
IPTN CN-235 Indonesia transport 1[37]
Airbus C295 Spain transport C295MW 2 2 on order[38]
Helicopters
Bell 214ST United States utility 1[37]
Sikorsky UH-60 United States utility / transport S-70i 12[37] produced in Poland
Trainer Aircraft
Bell 206 United States rotorcraft trainer 2[37]
Pilatus PC-7 Switzerland trainer 4[37]
UAV
Meggitt Banshee United Kingdom Target drone Unknown [39]
RQ-21 Blackjack United States ISTAR 5[40][41]

Retired

Previous aircraft operated were the Hawker Siddeley HS 748, Bell 212, Sikorsky S-55, MBB Bo 105, SIAI-Marchetti SF.260, Piper PA-28 Cherokee, Westland Wessex, and the Westland Whirlwind.[7][42][43]

Radar

The No. 2 Wing operate the P-STAR ground-based radar which provides a picture of the controlled airspace over Brunei[44]

Incidents

A Bell 212 operated by the Royal Brunei Air Force crashed in Kuala Belait on 20 July 2012 with the loss of 12 of the 14 crew on board.[45] The cause of the accident has yet to be ascertained.[46] The crash is the worst aviation incident in the history of Brunei.

Commander

A lieutenant of the Royal Brunei Air Force during the 2023 National Day.
No. Name

(Birth–Death)

Term of office Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Major general
Abidin Ahmad
1982 1986 3–4 years [47]
2 Colonel
Jocklin Kongpaw
27 March 1986 ? [48]
? Brigadier general
Ibrahim Mohammed
? ? [49]
10 Brigadier general
Mahmud Saidin
? 20 August 2009 [50]
11 Brigadier general
Jofri Abdullah
20 August 2009 7 December 2012 3 years, 109 days [51]
12 Brigadier general
Wardi Abdul Latip
7 December 2012 26 September 2015 2 years, 293 days [52]
13 Brigadier general
Shahril Anwar
26 September 2015 18 August 2018 2 years, 326 days [53]
14 Major general
Hamzah Sahat
18 August 2018 28 August 2020 2 years, 10 days [54]
15 Brigadier general
Sharif Ibrahim
28 August 2020 Incumbent 3 years, 165 days [55]

Rank structure

Main article: Military ranks of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces

Commissioned Officers

The rank insignia for commissioned officers for the Royal Brunei Air Force.

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Royal Brunei Air Force
Marsyal udara Jeneral (udara) Leftenan jeneral (udara) Mejar jeneral (udara) Brigedier jeneral (udara) Kolonel (udara) Leftenan kolonel (udara) Mejar (udara) Kapten (udara) Leftenan (udara) Leftenan muda (udara)

Enlisted

Unlike most Commonwealth armed forces, Brunei has maintained 4 warrant officer ranks, used in conjunction with the standard Commonwealth NCO and enlisted personnel and ratings ranks. The following are the rank insignia for enlisted personnel for the Royal Brunei Air Force.

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Royal Brunei Air Force

No insignia
Pegawai waran 1 (udara) Pegawai waran 2 (udara) Staf sarjan (udara) Sarjan (udara) Koperal (udara) Lans koperal (udara) Prebet/Soldadu (udara)

See also

References

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  3. ^ Fadley Faisal (25 June 2022). "Call to remain flexible, adaptable and professional". BorneoBulletin.com.bn. Borneo Bulletin Online. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
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  5. ^ Roles Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 20 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  6. ^ Paxton, J. (20 December 2016). The Statesman's Year-Book 1990-91. Springer. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-230-27119-7.
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  8. ^ a b c d "No. 3 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
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  25. ^ Administration Wing Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 July 2007
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