Royal Brunei Air Force

The Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) (Malay: Tentera Udara Diraja Brunei, abbreviation TUDB) 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 2023, the Royal Brunei Air Force operates twenty manned aircraft[1] and four unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

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
Allegiance Royal Brunei Armed Forces
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare, air defence, air policing, search and rescue
Size20 manned aircraft,[1] plus 4 UAVs
Part ofRoyal Brunei Armed Forces
HeadquartersRimba, Brunei-Muara, Brunei
CommanderBrig Gen Sharif Ibrahim[2][3]
Deputy CommanderCol Haszahaidi Ahmad Daud
Chief of staffLt Col Mohammad Albadii Shahnoel
Sergeant MajorWO1 Suridi Ibrahim
Brig Gen Mahmud Saidin @ Muhammad Saidin (first Bruneian with fighter pilot's licence)
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
Multirole helicopterS-70i, Bell 214ST
Trainer helicopterBell 206
TrainerPC-7 Mk.II

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; 58 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 edit

Patch of the Air Wing of the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment, 1972.
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. 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.[6][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.[6] 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.[6] 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 edit

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:

  • No. 1 Wing consisted of four flying squadrons in it. Each squadron has unique operating requirements for their respective functions with the capability to conduct maritime and border patrol.[17]
    • No. 11 Squadron (formerly No. 1) is equipped with Bell 214ST helicopters. 1 Sqn previously operated the Bell 212 until their retirement in 2013.[18] The primary roles of 1 Squadron are for troop lift, casualty evacuation, medical evacuation, fire suppression, VVIP lift, and search and rescue.[19]
    • No. 12 Squadron (formerly No. 2) was previously equipped with Bölkow BO105 helicopters. The primary roles of 2 Squadron are to provide flying doctor, reconnaissance, surveillance, close air support, VVIP lift, and search and locate services.[19]
    • No. 14 Squadron (formerly No. 4) is equipped with Blackhawk S-70A helicopters. The primary roles of 4 Squadron are special combat squadron operation task, troop lift, casualty evacuation, medical evacuation, fire fighting, VVIP lift, and search and rescue.[19]
    • No. 15 Squadron (formerly No. 5) is equipped with a CN-235 aircraft. The primary roles of 5 Squadron are to provide troop-lift, surveillance, and search and locate capabilities.[19]
    Soldier from the No. 236 Squadron in full combat dress.
    No. 2 Wing, formerly known as Air Regiment, is responsible for protecting the Royal Brunei Air Force Base and Brunei's airspace against aerial threats.[20]
    • No. 233 Squadron (formerly No. 33 and Air Battery) is equipped with the Rapier FSB1 missile launcher.[21] Its first base of operations was Penanjong Garrison, where Rapier FSB1, a short-range air defense system, was operated. However in 2010, the system was turned off. In addition to preparation for its new Air Defence System, the squadron became a supporting unit for No. 238 Squadron.[20]
    • No. 236 Squadron (formerly Base Defence Squadron) is responsible for the protection of the Royal Brunei Air Force Base and any Forward Operating Base.[21]
    • No. 238 Squadron (formerly No. 38) is equipped with the VSHORAD (Very Short Range Air Defence System) Mistral missile launcher, based in Berakas Garrison.[21][20]
    • The Engineering Squadron is situated in Berakas Garison. Via maintenance, the squadron assists in guaranteeing the Air Defence Squadron's operational preparedness.[20]
  • No. 3 Wing is tasked in helping with the operational group to carry out its duties and fulfill its mission.[8]
    PATDU during the RBAirF Anniversary 2009.
    • The Parachute Airborne Tactical Delivery Unit (PATDU) provides jungle rescue team, jungle line resupply, multi rope abseil. PATDU are also involved in parachute competitions at the regional and international level.[21]
    • The Fire Brigade Unit (formerly Fire Unit) provides fire and rescue cover of any aircraft during an emergency.[21]
    • The Air Movement Flight supervises all aircraft entering and leaving the RBAirF base, with an addition in dealing with cargo.[8]
    • The Air Space Control assist the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in controlling airplanes that fly over our area. Its goal is to find competent Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs).[8]
  • No. 4 Wing, also known as the Supply Headquarter, is under the control of the Support Group Commander.[22]
    • Domestic Supply Squadron (DSS) is tasked with providing logistical support and equipment for the personnel.[22]
    • Supply Control and Accounting Flight (SCAF) is made up of five key cells which are the Control Accounting Cell (CAC), the Supply Accounting Cell (SAC), the Supply Control Cell (SCC), Receipt and Despatch (R&D), and the Bulk Fuel Installation Account.[22]
    • Technical Supply Squadron (TSS), formerly known as Technical Supply Flight, is in charge of providing technical assistance to the RBAirF, which keeps its spare parts in the Forward Stores and the Air Force Main Store. The No. 4 Wing Main Building houses the Mainstore, and the Forward Stores, which are currently operational, and are housed within Hangar A, Hangar B, and No. 38 Squadron.[22]
    • Bulk Fuel Installation[22]
  • No. 5 Wing, also known as Maintenance Wing, is to make sure that all operating and training requirements are satisfied, as well as to adhere to maintenance deadlines and handle all issues pertaining to aircraft maintenance with extreme care. The S70i Black Hawk, Bo-105, Bell 206 Jet Ranger, S70a Black Hawk, and CN235 are among the aircraft that the engineering squadrons 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55 Squadron are directly in charge of maintaining. This covers the engine, avionics, and airframe of the airplane, among other components.[23]
    • Standard Engineering Cell provide all of the reference material that No. 5 Wing's squadrons and departments.[23]
    • Engineering Control & Planning (EC & P) makes sure that every maintenance activity is correctly documented and updated as necessary.[23]
    • Maintenance Planning Resources Management (MPRM) anticipates all maintenance-related operations and resources.[23]
    • Technical Equipment Maintenance Department (TEMD) is a civilian branch tasked with providing maintenance for the aircraft.[24]
    • No. 51 Squadron
    • No. 52 Squadron
    • No. 53 Squadron
    • No. 54 Squadron
    • No. 55 Squadron
    • Engineering Support Flight provides additional assistance to the squadrons. Ground Support Equipment (GSE) personnel are in charge of providing all necessary equipment for maintenance tasks, Flight Line Mechanics (FLM) personnel are in charge of moving the aircraft on the hangar floor or outside at the apron, and Survival Equipment Section (SES) personnel are in charge of all maintenance and survival equipment provision inside the aircraft.[23]
    A member of the RBAirF's Fire Brigade Unit (first from the left).
    No. 6 Wing, formerly known as Administration Wing,[25] is tasked with overseeing personnel welfare as well as administrative concerns and base upkeep related to RBAirF activities.[26]
    • Regimental Police Fleet (RP Flt) is tasked to prevent unauthorized entry to any restricted areas.[26]
    • Pay Fleet safeguard the welfare of all RBAirF personnel, proper procedures for receiving their individual pay and benefits in accordance with the pay manual and financial regulations were followed.[26]
    • Base Maintenance (Base Maint) make sure that all Base requirements from all units are met in accordance with Base procedures.[26]
    • Estate Maintenance Service (EMS) is tasked to do repairs on equipment at Rimba Airbase.[26]
    • Medical Reception Service (MRS) is tasked to provide RBAirF personnel with medical facilities.[26]
    • Light Aid Detachment (LAD) is tasked to maintain the RBAirF's motor transport equipment in working order.[26]
    • Military Transport Fleet (Mt Flt) is tasked to give the RBAirF military land mobility.[26]
    • Dental offer RBAirF members with dental treatment services.[26]
  • No. 7 Wing, formerly known as Training Wing, is in charge of managing its staff's administration and wellbeing. The wing also houses a facility for leadership training to meet the requirements of the RBAirF.[27]
    • No. 73 Squadron, also known as Flying Training School (FTS) and formerly No. 3 and No. 63 Squadron, is tasked to give aspiring pilots basic training in both fixed and rotary wings. In addition to training pilots for the RBAirF, it also train crew members. All things considered, the squadron marks the start of a pilot and crewman's career.[27] It is equipped with Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopters and Pilatus PC-7 Mk.II aircraft.[24]
    • No 75 Squadron, also known as Air Technical Training School (ATTS), to offer fundamental and advanced technical training to all RBAirF technicians in order to create skilled, energetic technicians who can meet operational needs and help the air force realize its aim of being the Center of Excellence in Air Technical Training.[27]
    • No. 77 Squadron is based at Berakas Garrison, and it instructs members of the RBAirF and the No. 2 Wing in air defense.[27]
    • Physical Training Instructor[27]

Commander edit

No. Portrait Name


Term of office Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
? Brigadier general
Ibrahim Mohammed
? ? [28]
10 Brigadier general
Mahmud Saidin
? 20 August 2009 [29]
11 Brigadier general
Jofri Abdullah
20 August 2009 7 December 2012 3 years, 109 days [30]
12   Brigadier general
Wardi Abdul Latip
7 December 2012 26 September 2015 2 years, 293 days [31]
13   Brigadier general
Shahril Anwar
26 September 2015 18 August 2018 2 years, 326 days [32]
14   Major general
Hamzah Sahat
18 August 2018 28 August 2020 2 years, 10 days [33]
15   Brigadier general
Sharif Ibrahim
28 August 2020 Incumbent 3 years, 101 days [34]

Rank structure edit

A lieutenant of the Royal Brunei Air Force during the 2023 National Day.

Commissioned Officers edit

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) Pegawai kadet (udara)

Enlisted edit

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
Sarjan mejar
Pegawai waran 1 (udara) Pegawai waran 2 (udara) Staf sarjan (udara) Sarjan (udara) Koperal (udara) Lans koperal (udara) Prebet/Soldadu (udara)

Incidents edit

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.[35] The cause of the accident has yet to be ascertained.[36] The crash is the worst aviation incident in the history of Brunei.

Equipment edit

Sikorsky S-70i in 2022.

Armaments for the aircraft consist of M134 Minigun's, FZ rockets and unguided air-to-surface SURA rockets.[37][14][38] There have been plans to secure fighter capability by purchasing several BAE Hawk aircraft, but these plans have been delayed on several occasions.[39] 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.[40] The RBAirF is to acquire three CN235-220 CASA-IPTN CN 235M aircraft for maritime operations.[41] The C-130J Super Hercules is expected to be delivered to the RBAirF in 2018. Then RBAirF's commander, Brigadier General Wardi Abdul Latip, stated that the RBAirF was actively working with aerospace company Lockheed Martin to purchase the military transport aircraft, with delivery expected in 2018 or 2's security in eastern Sabah from the threats of militants from the southern Philippines, as well as to dispose of older inventory, the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) transferred four of its S-70A Black Hawk to the Royal Malaysian Air Force.[42][43] In 2014, eight Bell 212 helicopters were retired and officially decommissioned from service.[18][44]

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.[45] Moreover, the newly acquired M134D Minigun will be expected to be integrated into the RBAirF later in 2022.[46]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2023". Flightglobal International. 2023. Retrieved 6 February 2023.
  2. ^ "Commander of the Royal Brunei Air Force". Defence Information Technology Unit, Ministry of Defence, Brunei Darussalam. 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  3. ^ Fadley Faisal (25 June 2022). "Call to remain flexible, adaptable and professional". Borneo Bulletin Online. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  4. ^ a b Introduction Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 2 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  5. ^ Roles Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 20 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  6. ^ a b c History Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 20 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  7. ^ "HISTORY". Ministry of Defence.
  8. ^ a b c d "No. 3 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  9. ^ "RBAF debuts new military uniforms". Borneo Bulletin Online. Archived from the original on 21 October 2022.
  10. ^ "s10.png – Transfers of major weapons: deals with deliveries or orders made for 2021 to 2021". – Free image hosting service. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  11. ^ a b Dominguez, Gabriel; Giovanzanti, Alessandra (6 July 2021). "Royal Brunei Air Force acquires Insitu Integrator unmanned aerial system". Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  12. ^ James Kon (25 June 2021). "RBAirF committed to defending sovereignty, 55 years on". Borneo Bulletin Online. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  13. ^ "Black Hawk training in Brunei for Philippine Air Force launched". Bandar Seri Begawan: Embassy of the Philippines. 3 December 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  14. ^ a b "Air Force retires Bolkow 105 helicopters". Borneo Bulletin Online. 5 February 2022. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
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  16. ^ Organisation Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 20 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  17. ^ "No. 1 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  18. ^ a b Lt (U) Mohd Hazwan (2020). Lt Col (U) Don Giovanni (ed.). "The Bell 212: the era of the juggernauts" (PDF). Keris Terbang (Flying Dagger). No. 1. Royal Brunei Air Force, Defence Information Technology Unit, Ministry of Defence, Brunei Darussalam. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 5 February 2023.
  19. ^ a b c d Operation Wing Squadrons Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  20. ^ a b c d "No. 2 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  21. ^ a b c d e Air Regiment Squadrons Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  22. ^ a b c d e "No. 4 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  23. ^ a b c d e "No. 5 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  24. ^ a b Logistics and Training Wing Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 July 2007
  25. ^ Administration Wing Royal Brunei Air Force Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 July 2007
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i "No. 6 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  27. ^ a b c d e "No. 7 Wing". Royal Brunei Air Force.
  28. ^ "THE COMMANDER OF THE ROYAL BRUNEI AIR FORCE, COLONEL (COL) …". Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  29. ^ "Official Visit By Commander In-Chief, Royal Thai Air Force". Royal Brunei Air Force. 2 February 2007.
  30. ^ "Jofri Abdullah TUDB - Google Search". Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  31. ^ "News_Test – Royal Brunei Air Force Gets New Commander..." Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  32. ^ "News Headlines - ROYAL BRUNEI AIR FORCE WELCOMES NEW COMMANDER..." Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  33. ^ "Commander RBAF - Major General (U) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sahat, Royal Brunei Armed Forces Commander". Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  34. ^ "Upacara Serah Terima Tugas Pemerintah TUDB" [RBAirF government handover ceremony]. (in Malay). Brunei's No. 1 News Website. 29 August 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  35. ^ AFP (21 July 2012). "Brunei helicopter crash kills 12: air force". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  36. ^ CNN Wire Staff. "12 killed in Brunei helicopter crash". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012. {{cite news}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  37. ^ "News Headline". Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  38. ^ Wilson, Gwen (8 February 2022). "Royal Brunei Air Force retires Bo105 fleet". Retrieved 10 September 2022.
  39. ^ British Aerospace Hawk Still Leads the Pack Flug Revue Online Archived 23 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine - Retrieved 21 April 2007
  40. ^[dead link]
  41. ^ "Janes | Latest defence and security news". Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
  42. ^ Marcel Burger (23 January 2015). "Brunei gives four Black Hawks as present to Malaysia". AIRheads. Archived from the original on 24 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  43. ^ "Brunei transfers S-70A Blackhawks to Malaysian Armed Forces". Borneo Bulletin. 29 January 2015. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  44. ^ "Bell 212 choppers decommissioned". Brunei Times. Archived from the original on 1 July 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  45. ^ Shareen Han (31 May 2021). "RBAF to use drones for maritime security surveillance". The Scoop.
  46. ^ "News Headline". Defence Information Technology Unit, Ministry of Defence, Brunei Darussalam. Retrieved 23 October 2022.