In support of the US Military, who are performing a rehabilitation of the Baucau Airport in Timor Leste, Rentlo Car Hire has supplied 9 buses and 13 drivers to perform transportation from the Dili International Airport, to their Quarantine Hotel and then to Baucau which is located approximately 128km from Dili. The vehicles were then used as local transportation for the rehabilitation team while on site and then transport back to Dili and the International Airport.
The Government of Timor-Leste requested U.S. Government assistance to rehabilitate Baucau Airfield in 2018, and this Memorandum of Understanding reflects the U.S. commitment to support that request. The project, funded by the United States Department of Defense, allocates an initial $10.6 million intended to enhance Timor-Leste’s capacity in the areas of security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations to contribute to the development of a resilient and diversified economy. This includes support to the development of the F-FDTL’s Air Component and small-scale construction to improve security and storage capabilities at Baucau Airfield.
The project includes the donation of an American-made Cessna 206 aircraft, the installation of a security fence, the construction of an equipment storage warehouse, and high-quality American equipment to include a fuel truck, fire truck, forklift, two Ford F-350 utility trucks, a runway sweeper, and other support vehicles and airport security equipment. The aircraft will come with high-tech cameras the F-FDTL can use to monitor Timor-Leste’s territorial waters as well as respond to natural disasters.
Some information about Baucau Airport:
Baucau Airport (IATA: BCH, ICAO: WPEC), formerly Cakung Airport, is an unattended airport located 6.5 km (4.0 mi) west of Baucau, East Timor. Baucau is some 128 km East of Dili, the Capital of Timor Leste.
Baucau Airport has a much longer runway than Dili’s Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport. Prior to 1975 this airport was used for international flights, including those of Trans Australia Airlines from Australia, and as an air force base for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
In September 1975, a group of 44 civilians, including armed supporters of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), commandeered an RAAF Caribou aircraft, A4-140, on the ground at Baucau Airport. The Caribou had landed at Baucau on a humanitarian mission for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The civilians demanded that the RAAF crew members fly them to Darwin Airport (also RAAF Base Darwin) in Australia, which they did. After the Caribou arrived there, the Australian government detained the civilians for a short period, and then granted refugee visas to all of them. The Guardian later described A4-140 as “the only RAAF plane ever hijacked”, and the incident as “one of the more remarkable stories in Australia’s military and immigration history”.
Following the Indonesian invasion in December 1975, Baucau Airport was taken over by the Indonesian military and closed to civilian traffic.
During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, the airport served as a base for aircraft of the Indonesian Air Force, who were stationed for counter-insurgency effort toward the pro-independence guerrilla force.