The State of Brunei Darussalam gives neighbouring Malaysia quite a nice gift: four former Royal Brunei Air Force S-70A Black Hawks.
Malaysia will almost certainly operate the second-hand tactical / transport helicopters out of Labuan RMAF Base on a island just 5 miles (8 km) off the coast of Borneo, the land that holds Brunei, the Malaysian provinces of Sarawak and Sabah and Indonesian Kalimantan. From Labuan the choppers will be likely be deployed to fight armed groups that have infiltrated the so-called Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone).
After the transfer – planned for September according top Brunei military officials visiting Malaysia on 23 January – Malaysia Army Air Corps is likely to arm the S-70As with arms. Whether that will mean that Kuala Lumpur will order more weapons or just re-plan 8 of the 10 newly ordered General Electric M134D Hybrid Miniguns is yet unclear. Those Gatling guns were meant to be mounted onto the Army’s sole helicopter fleet, the ten AW109s, before they would transfer from Kluang to Labuan.
Malaysia is also looking into acquiring dedicated attack helicopters, for which the Turkish-made and Italian-designed T-129 could be a perfect candidate.
The Royal Brunei Air Force is currently transferring to 12 new-produced, more modern S-70i Black Hawks. By helping neighbouring Malaysia with additional rotary wing, Brunei more or less provides an extra forward line of defence for its own security. The Black Hawk is not new to Malaysia, as the Royal Malaysian Air Force flies a pair out of Simpang / Kuala Lumpur airfield for VIP duties.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger