Spectacular air show of military & defence capabilities at BRIDEX
Hakim Hayat

THE five-day Brunei Darussalam International Defence Exhibition (BRIDEX) 2013 was opened with a spectacular show of military and defence capabilities from armed forces and leading manufacturers of defence and security equipment and systems from within and outside the region.

His Majesty, who is also the Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) opened the defence exhibition at the Dome of the Bridex International Conference Centre in Jerudong yesterday.

Accompanying His Majesty were HRH Prince General Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince, Senior Minister at the Prime Ministerís Office and General of the RBAF with HRH Prince ĎAbdul Malik.

Earlier upon arrival, His Majesty was greeted by the Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat; the Commander of the RBAF, Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin; Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Defence cum Chairman of the BRIDEX 2013 Organising Committee, Datin Paduka Hajah Suriyah binti Haji Umar and the BRIDEX 2013 Exhibition Director, Hajah Rosmawati binti Hj Manaf.

Following the officiating ceremony, His Majesty proceeded to the VIP viewing area of the Bridex Dome to view air demonstrations featuring aircrafts from air force units from Brunei, USA, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The adrenaline-charged air demonstrations saw fighter jets flying in high speed performing aerial acrobatic movements in Bruneiís airspace, much to the awe of those present.

Among the aircrafts featured were the PC-7 Alap-Alap from the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF), KT-1 Woongbi Fixed Wing from the Indonesian Air Force, MV-22 Osprey Eurocopter from the US Marine Corps and F-15 from the Singapore Air Force.

The 30-minute show will be open to the public on December 5 and 6 from 9am to 11am only at BRIDEX, Jerudong.

Following the air show, His Majesty toured the two exhibition halls at Bridex, where over 90 international exhibitors comprising over 140 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers from over 30 countries are participating and showcasing the most recent and innovative defence equipment and security solutions.

The biennial event has recorded a 40 per cent increase in the number of newcomers this year, including companies from Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Taiwan and South Africa. Leading companies and OEMs from countries including the United Kingdom, the US, Canada, Germany, France, Turkey and China as well as regional players Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are also participating.

At Exhibition Hall 2, His Majesty unveiled the recently-delivered new fleet of helicopters for the RBAirF, the S-70i Black Hawk that MinDef procured from US-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

The Commander of the RBAirF, Brigadier General (U) Haji Wardi bin Haji Abd Latif introduced His Majesty to the local S70i pilot and technicians before taking a closer look at its functions and capabilities at the cockpit. His Majesty was later presented with a pesambah from Sikorsky Aircraft and signed a plaque to mark the unveiling.

From the exhibition halls, His Majesty and His Royal Highnesses proceeded to the Bridex Conference Hall for a luncheon. Following the luncheon, His Majesty and HRH the Crown Prince signed on the Royal Parchments to mark their visit and consented to a group photo session with the organisers and senior officials.

His Majesty later departed from Jerudong Polo Ground 1 for the RBAirF Base in Rimba via RBAirFís S-70A chopper to view static displays of various aircrafts.

His Majesty, who is also a trained aircraft pilot, was seen taking his time inspecting the aircrafts and speaking to their crew members while taking a closer look at the various functions.

Among aircrafts on display at the Rimba Air Force base are the KT-1 Woongbi and CN 295 from the Indonesian Air Force, Gripen Fighter Jet from the Royal Thai Air Force, Su30 MKM Fighter Jet from the Malaysian Air Force and the MV-22 Osprey, C130J and C17 from the US Marine Corps and Air Force.

Before leaving the Rimba Air Force Base, His Majesty also visited the new Air Movement Centre (AMC) at the base and signed a plaque to officiate his visit there.

Bridex 2013 is open for traders and exhibitors today while members of the public will have the opportunity to view the exhibition and witness air demonstrations as well as static displays tomorrow and on the last day, December 6.

Meanwhile, the static display at the Rimba Air Force Base is open to the public from today until December 6 and entrance is free. - Borneo Bulletin (4 December 2013)