RBAF's S-70i baseline Black Hawk helicopter

The Royal Brunei Air Force’s (RBAF) third S-70i baseline Black Hawk helicopter has completed factory acceptance testing at Sikorsky Aircraft’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland.

Sikorsky had signed a contract in December 2011 with the Brunei Ministry of Defence (BMoD) for the supply of 12 S-70i helicopters, along with spare parts, training and ground support equipment, as part of the RBAF Support Helicopter Project.

The contract also included an option for purchase of ten additional aircraft, as well as provision of an S-70i aircraft simulator for installation in the Southeast Asian region, to enable aircrew familiarisation with the helicopter.

According to the BMoD, the programme has already achieved several major milestones, such as completion of several design reviews and the production of several baseline aircraft at PZL Mielec, Sikorsky’s subsidiary in Poland.

The first two aircraft have already completed factory acceptance tests in April 2012, and the first helicopter is scheduled to be delivered to Sikorsky Military Completions Center (SMCC) in US, in October 2012, for customisation work to meet the RBAF’s requirements.

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Designed to replace the RBAF’s current fleet of Bell 212 helicopters, the S-70i Black Hawks will also boost its rotary wing capabilities in air mobility, search and rescue (SAR) and maritime and border surveillance missions.

The helicopters are expected to enable the Brunei Armed Forces to further strengthen its troop deployment capabilities during military and humanitarian and disaster relief operations across the region.

Featuring advanced avionics, the S-70i baseline Black Hawk is an international variant of the US Army’s UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter, designed for multiple missions, including troop support, humanitarian relief, VIP transport, search and rescue, medical evacuation and armed patrol.

The first batch of helicopters under the contract is scheduled for delivery in early 2014.

Image: RBAF’s S-70i baseline Black Hawk helicopter stationed at PZL Mielec facility in Poland. Photo: courtesy of Public Relations Unit – Ministry of Defence, Brunei Darussalam Copyright © 2011.