Asianmilitaryreview.com recently enjoyed a rare opportunity to catch up with the British Army Air Corps (AAC) 7 Flight (Brunei) which is a small detached sub unit of the UK armed forces’ Joint Helicopter Command (which includes Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and AAC rotorcraft).
Located at the Brunei Garrison, in Seria, in the east of Brunei-Darussalam, 7 Flight provides day and night medical evacuation cover, troop transport and tasking in support of British Forces Brunei (the only British military base in the Far East) and exercising units. The jungle training areas used in the country by British and foreign troops are seen to be one of the most challenging environments in the world in which to fight. Due to the remoteness of the areas used, the only way for soldiers to train within the jungle interior is through insertion and extraction by support helicopters.
The flight is equipped with three Bell Helicopters 212 Mk.1 light utility rotorcraft that are owned and maintained by Cobham Aviation Services under a civilian-owned, military-operated contract. These airframes have been used by 7 Flight since 1994. The UK Ministry of Defence plans to award a contract worth in excess of $28.4 million by the end of the year to replace these aircraft by the end of 2017.
The AAC’s 7 Flight has a strong relationship with the Angkatan Tentera Udara Diraja Brunei (ATUDB/Royal Brunei Air Force) and is often operating in similar areas within the country’s Ulu Labi and Ulu Tutong training areas. Ground crew personnel from both 7 Flight and the ATUDB regularly train together, which enables the ATUDB’s Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk family of medium-lift utility helicopters and Airbus Helicopters BO-105 counter-insurgency rotorcraft to uplift fuel at 7 Flight’s operating base at the Garrison and 7 Flight’s 212 helicopters to uplift fuel from Rimba airbase in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan.
The Flight’s personnel also meet with members of the detachment at the Brunei Airspace Safety Group, a unique military/civil quarterly air safety forum, attended by personnel from the ATUDB, the Royal Flight, Shell Aviation, Royal Brunei Airlines, the Bruneian Civil Aviation Authority and other key aviation stakeholders in Brunei.