09 Juli 2011
ACV present at the second Bridex expo (photo : trmilitary)
TURKEY is among the countries bidding to supply land-based combat vehicles to Brunei, as a "fullymechanised battalion" has been envisioned by the Defence White Paper 2011 for the Royal Brunei Land Force's (RBLF) capabilities for domestic and international humanitarian efforts.
The Defence White Paper (DWP) said that the land force's capacity was "limited due to the extended operational life of its major combat assets".
"To improve its flexibility across the spectrum of conflict, including options for contributing to peace and stability operations, and the ability to protect national assets and infrastructure, the land force is to be progressively hardened and its ability to deliver precision firepower upgraded," the 45-page document launched on Wednesday said.
Given the Royal Brunei Armed Forces' resolve to increase its commitment to peacekeeping missions like in Mindanao and Lebanon, the army was looking for solutions that will further protect its soldiers deployed in these increasingly "complex and dangerous environments".
"Introducing an upgraded armoured personnel carrier capability at company level with the ability to protect personnel against the range of threats, including improvised explosive devices, currently being experienced in peace operations will enhance the nation's ability to contribute to those collective tasks."
"It will also provide the nucleus for developing the skills and doctrine for the planned mechanisation of one of the battalions.
"More "potent" short-to-medium range direct firepower at unit and squadron levels were also planned for the RBLF.
"To support system commonality, variants of the mobility armoured personnel carrier will be considered to replace the existing light tank," the DWP said.
Industry observers said the RBLF was looking at a mechanised battalion by as early as 2014.
Turkish weapons manufacturer FNSS Savunma Sistemieri AS is among the companies interested in securing a procurement deal with the Brunei military.
FNSS International Sales Manager Melih Kayaalptold The Brunei Times yesterday at the company's BRIDEX 2011 booth that they were offering an amphibious light carrier, the Armoured Combat Vehicle (ACV).
The "basic version" of the tank was five wheeled and weighed in at 13 to 15 tonnes, while a larger stretch version can weigh as much as 18 tonnes, still allowing the vehicle to float and "swim" across the surface of bodies of water.
The ACV, which has been procured by countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines, has also been used in humanitarian missions in Bosnia and Turkey.
"At some point, I remember in Turkey there was some kind of flooding and our army also used it to rescue the people because it can swim (and) it can go (through) difficult terrain," Kayaalp said.
The ACV has also been demonstrated "on trials" in Brunei, the FNSS sales manager said, adding that the tank was suitable for the climate in the region as "the Malaysians are (also) using it, similar climate, no problem".
Another FNSS product is the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), which incorporate fold-out platforms that can ferry a 150-metre bridge. FNSS has designed and developed 52 of these AAVs for the Turkish army.