| Siti Hajar |
THE United States Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has confirmed that the US State Department has approved the possible sale of a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules medium-lift military transport aircraft and six Rolls Royce AE2100D3 turbo-propeller engines to the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.
“I can confirm that we are looking to acquire the C-130J through the United States Defence Department and we are looking forward to making further progress in the procurement process,” Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, Deputy Minister of Defence told the Bulletin yesterday.
“Training will also be included in the package and we are still hoping for further progress,” he said, adding that this was “welcome news”.
Brunei had requested clearance from US authorities to purchase the tactical transport aircraft, along with equipment, spare parts and associated training and logistical support for a total of US$343 million, the US DSCA announced on October 7. All the necessary certification were duly submitted before the US Congress for approval the previous day.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen US-Brunei relations, which has been a force for regional stability and economic progress in Southeast Asia,” said the DSCA in a press statement.
“The aircraft will enable Brunei to provide aid and assistance in greater capacities to regional allies and partners in need. Brunei should have no difficulty absorbing this aircraft into its inventory.”
During the Royal Brunei Air Force’s (RBAirF) 48th anniversary celebrations on June 24, its commander, Brigadier General (U) Wardi bin Abdul Latip first confirmed that the RBAirF was looking to acquire the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft and that the aircraft would considerably increase the capabilities of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in the region and beyond.
The acquisition of the aircraft, once completed, would mark another milestone for the RBAF as it continues to plot its progress for capability modernisation that has been set out through the Defence White Papers and Updates.
One such milestone was achieved with the delivery of the first of 12 Sikorsky S-70i BlackHawk medium-lift helicopters that are set to replace the ageing Bell 212 workhorses of the RBAirF fleet.
Used primarily by the US military and Royal Air Force of the British Armed Forces, the C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft with new engines, flight deck and other systems developed from the C-130 Hercules.
Variants of the C-130 Hercules are also in service today with the armed forces of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
The possible deployment of this aircraft during the RBAF’s peace monitoring and peacekeeping missions to the southern Philippines province of Mindanao and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon would allow for greater range, load capacity and increased flexibility in carrying out any number of missions entrusted with the Sultanate’s armed forces.