But helicopter could be too costly for country struggling to fund MPA requirement

The Royal Brunei Armed Forces is considering the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter as a candidate to meet its long-standing coastal patrol requirement.

Industry sources say that, while Brunei is yet to approach Boeing, it has informally asked the US government for information.

Brunei has been considering fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and mission systems to protect the country's exclusive economic zone against illegal fishing and other incursions (Flight International, 29 January-4 February).

The sources say that Brunei is interested in the Longbow-radar-equipped Apache's ability to detect, classify, prioritise and engage stationary or moving targets at stand-off ranges in nearly all weather conditions.

But observers believe that acquiring Apaches would be prohibitively expensive for Brunei, which is struggling to raise funds for the MPA requirement. They say that other, less-advanced helicopters would be capable of matching the Apache's surveillance abilities at a lower cost.

The country is meanwhile trying to fund helicopters to equip three offshore patrol vessels and VIP transports for the Sultan's flight.

The MPA requirement will probably be met with a single fixed-wing aircraft initially. One candidate is the EADS Casa-built CN235-300, or larger C295, equipped with the company's Fully Integrated Tactical System. Offers are also expected from Bombardier, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

Singapore has taken delivery of the first of 20 AH-64Ds. The Apaches will be based at a US National Guard facility in Arizona, but are expected to be deployed in Singapore from 2006.

Source: Flight International