News: US, 70 countries come together at Brunei for BRIDEX 13
Story by Cpl. Alyssa N. Gunton
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei - The 4th biennial Brunei Darussalam International Defense Exhibition and Conference officially began with an opening ceremony and air demonstration Dec. 3 at the BRIDEX Exhibition Center in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.
BRIDEX 13 showcases technology in land, sea, air and security systems to address the wide spectrum of security challenges being faced by countries in the region and around the world. This year’s theme is “Bridging the capability gap,” and approximately 70 countries are participating.
The U.S. Marine MV-22B Osprey and KC-130J Super Hercules, as well as a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft all took part in the first day’s activities and will continue participating in displays and demonstrations throughout the five-day exhibition and conference.
This event provides countries and defense companies from around the world an opportunity to further global security and share defense cooperation among many nations.
“This is important because this fosters good international and bilateral relations with Brunei,” said Lt. Col. Joseph S. Lee, the mission commander for U.S. aircraft at BRIDEX 13 and the executive officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It also shows the capability of the MV-22 and KC-130J in the Marine Corps and its reach and capability. We are exercising this increased capability in the Pacific area of operation, and this is an opportunity for us to showcase our capabilities. It is good for the Marine Corps to show we have the capability to assist multiple island nations or nations that are surrounded by water, especially since we just came from doing a disaster relief mission in the Philippines - Operation Damayan.”
Marines with VMM-262 took part in Operation Damayan, which was the U.S. military’s response to Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Republic of the Philippines. As soon as their mission of delivering relief supplies and evacuating civilians was completed, they flew to Brunei for BRIDEX 13, which demonstrates their commitment mission accomplishment across a wide spectrum of operations.
“The capability to shift gears and execute different missions quickly is critical, obviously the MV-22 is capable of a lot of things which have been illustrated by VMM-262 over the past weeks. This shows our amphibious capabilities, and how we can go from a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to a bilateral relationship in another country back-to-back. It also shows that we can reach out and touch people with this aircraft in any mission assigned. “
During the aviation demonstration, the MV-22B demonstrated its notable and unique capabilities to the assembled military, political and defense business officials, including the Sultan of Brunei, including flying low over the convention at 250 knots and transitioning from helicopter hover mode to airplane mode quickly.
“We showed off the capabilities of the Osprey,” said Capt. Austin Stobaugh, an Osprey pilot with VMM-262. “Once we were in front of the stands we conducted a break and execute a 180 degree turn at 250 knots and 500 feet. As we came through that turn we took the power off the aircraft in order to come up into helicopter mode. Once in helicopter mode, we slide left, slide right, do a 360, and then we bow to the audience. Once that’s done we like to show off the capability of how the Osprey can get up to speed, so we transition into airplane mode and use our speed to show how quickly we can move.”
BRIDEX 13 also provided the Marine Corps and Air Force with a time to unite and work closely with one another, as crews of the C-17 Globemaster III and the KC-130J Super Hercules and MV-22B Ospreys spent the week together.
“As we have come out of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom we have learned a lot of lessons and that joint capability is very important,” said Lee. “This shows the capability and reach of all our aircraft. It’s impressive that (the Air Force) came straight from Hawaii, and we came straight from the Philippines, and it shows that we can work together in a joint environment at a moment’s notice.”
U.S. service members also had a once in a lifetime chance to shake hands with and meet Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan of Brunei, along with many international government, military and defense business officials. The Sultan toured the Osprey, C-130 and C-17 at Rimba Air Base, and spoke with pilots and crew on each of the aircraft.
The Sultan and Brunei Ministry of Defense hosted BRIDEX 13 and say they look forward to future exhibitions.
“I want to thank all of our guests and friends who have come from overseas to support us, and I’m glad with the opportunity for us to come together and renew our relationships. Many of you have traveled across the globe to be here and we’re glad to have so many defense organizations here for cooperation and peace and security in the region,” said Yang Mulia Dato Paduka, the deputy minister of defense of Brunei.