06 Juli 2009
Brunei interest with CN-235MPA for maritime patrol aircraft (photo : TNI-AU)
Brunei Darussalam is no exception to the current global financial crisis. The repercussions of this crisis beg the need for prudent government spending and investment. In this vein, the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) as the nation's first line of defence will continue, through smart acquisition, to modernise and develop its forces and capabilities in order to respond to and sustain in the ever-changing environment, as well as to overcome the various security challenges. As outlined in the Defence White Paper Update 2007, the RBAF's key requirements include an effective Command and Control mechanisms set up, land force flexibility maximisation, aerial and maritime surveillance and response capabilities enhancement and force elements mobility and sustenance logistics support network.
The complexity of security and operational challenges have emphasised the importance for a joint force approach to operations, which requires interoperability not only within the RBAF, but also between the RBAF and other government agencies. Thus, for the purpose of creating effective Command and Control throughout the organisation, the RBAF has established its Joint Force Headquarters in early 2008, which is to be equipped with a new Combat Net Radio system and a C4I system, currently at the implementation and procurement stages respectively. These capabilities are also expected to provide the RBAF connectivity and interoperability with its foreign counterparts, thereby enabling Brunei Darussalam to participate in any cooperative operations in the international theatre.
The Royal Brunei Land Force (RBLF) has been focusing on acquiring a comprehensive suite of equipment to maximise the flexibility, mobility and effectiveness of its operations. Amongst others, these include enhancing its weaponry, replacing its mobility assets, acquiring gap-crossing bridges, tactical communications and immediate area day-night surveillance. In tandem with these capability enhancements, the RBLF is also currently planning to create a mechanised infantry battalion, a second engineer squadron and a reconnaissance platoon.
In defending and preserving the nation's maritime interests, safety and security, the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) is looking at acquiring patrol vessels and fast patrol boats to replace its current assets. These new vessels not only would provide the capability for the RBN to sustain maritime presence in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), but would further contribute towards the nation's ability to cooperate with its neighbours beyond the nation's EEZ, both in combating transnational security challenges and conducting humanitarian relief operations.
Complementing the maritime surveillance capabilities, the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) is also looking at expanding its current aerial surveillance envelope through the acquisition of additional maritime patrol and fixed wing transport aircrafts.
In addition to these, in the medium and long term, plans are being drawn up to acquire UAV capability and to replace older helicopters to ensure the RBAirF's overall operational effectiveness.In addition, the Ministry of Defence is also looking at privatising some of its work and outsource some of its needs, such as cook houses, small arms simulator and vehicles servicing and repairs. They offer business opportunities to the services sector, both locally and outside the country. Consultancy work is another area which the Ministry will continue to require in many of its major projects.
The timely acquisition and operational availability of key capabilities is an essential component in achieving the nation?s security objectives. With such big plans for capability development, MINDEF looks at defence exhibitions, and particularly BRIDEX, as an important part of the procurement process as it seeks cost effective solutions for operational requirements of the RBAF.
(Asian Military Review)