Air Platforms

Brunei receives first S-70i helicopters

04 December 2013
A RBAF Sikorsky S-70i performs a flight demonstration at BRIDEX 2013. Source: Gordon Arthur

Sikorsky delivered the first four of 12 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters to the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAF) in early December.

One of the helicopters, which were delivered under a USD325 million contract for 12 helicopters signed in December 2011, performed at the BRIDEX 2013 defence exhibition that ran from 3-6 December.

The S-70i is replacing Brunei's fleet of ageing Bell 212s. The need to retire the Bell fleet was emphasised in July 2012 when one crashed, killing 12 people in Brunei's worst-ever air accident.

Christophe Nurit, Sikorsky's vice-president in Asia, noted that two of the Black Hawks were delivered two months ahead of schedule, while the other pair arrived four months early. The eight remaining S-70s will be delivered by the end of 2014.

Colonel Shahril Anwar Bib Hj Ma'awiah, who heads the Directorate of Force Capability Development at Brunei's Ministry of Defence, told IHS Jane's the configuration of the RBAF's new helicopters was very similar to that of the US Army's UH-60M.

Versatility was paramount in Brunei's list of specifications, as the aircraft will be utilised for air mobility, tactical airlift, maritime and border surveillance, disaster relief, and special operations. Brunei's S-70i helicopters feature a nose-mounted weather radar and rescue hoist.

Brunei, which has an option for 10 more S-70i helicopters, is looking to standardise its helicopter fleet and eventually to replace four older S-70A Black Hawks.

Four RBAF pilots have completed training in the United States, while Sikorsky has an in-country support and training programme for the RBAF in place. This includes a flight simulator to be located in a new Multi-Purpose Training Centre (MPTC) currently being built by CAE.

The Asia-Pacific region is a key market for Sikorsky, and Nurit said the Bruneian contract - the first S-70i delivery in the Asia-Pacific region - was "a good opportunity to build a more committed relationship" in the sultanate and to develop opportunities with its neighbours. Malaysia is another potential market, with Sikorsky supporting a US Navy-led offer to supply six anti-submarine warfare MH-60R Seahawks to the Malaysian Navy.



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