Members of Patrol Squadron 10 posing with the US Navy P-8 Boeing 737 aircraft. Image: Rafidah Hamit

The United States (US) Navy P-8 Boeing 737 aircraft is currently in the sultanate as part of the 25th Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), which kicked off on Tuesday.

Aimed at improving cooperation to address regional security threats, the bilateral exercise is between the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), the US Navy (USN) and the US Marine Corps (USMC).

On Thursday, members of the local media were invited to the Royal Brunei Airforce Rimba Air Base for the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) mission.

Patrol Squadron 10 crew members conducting their respective duties. Image: Rafidah Hamit

The mission entailed boarding the P-8 for an hour-long flight to observe tracking exercises and day-to-day operations including assisting the Royal Brunei Navy (RBN) in providing and identifying contacts beyond their radar range.

Lieutenant Tana Hanacek, the pilot for the Patrol Squadron 10, said the US Navy P-8 Boeing 737 is a multi-mission aircraft for maritime domain aspects, surfacing ships to other surface ships in the area.

This includes anti-submarine warfare and high surface warfare as well as search and rescue missions.

Lieutenant Tana Hanacek, the pilot for the Patrol Squadron 10. Image: Rafidah Hamit

“We are in Brunei in support of CARAT where we’ll be participating in tracking exercises and working with one of Brunei’s navy ships.”

“We’re going to take off and identify surface ships that are in the area, use our camera in order to get eyes on that ship and communicate the positions. (Acting as) the eyes of the skies for our friendly ships out there,” she explained.

The aircraft is equipped with an advanced radar system and high-definition camera enabling clear focus and zoom on contact surface ships and vessels.

Clear views from the P-8 aircraft. Image: Rafidah Hamit

According to Lieutenant Hanacek, during daily operations, the crew are required to remain extremely flexible as mission sets can possibly change from day to day.

“On a normal day, we have nine aircrews flying with us consisting of three pilots, two tactical coordinators and then (an) additional four operators in the back,” she said, adding that the aircraft can carry up to 21 passengers.

“We hope to continue to work with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and strengthen our relationship.”

The CARAT exercise which is designed to enhance the interoperability and capabilities of both armed forces will conclude on October 31.

Members of Patrol Squadron 10 explaining to local media regarding the aircraft facilities. Image: Rafidah Hamit

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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