Bangladesh is looking to buy multi-role combat jets, transport aircraft, Apache attack helicopters and surface-to-air missile systems from the United States.
“Both countries are currently negotiating two agreements that are required by the US law for the purchase to go ahead that will expand the military cooperation between the countries,” two US government officials were quoted as saying by Dhaka Tribune.
Earlier the US offered to sell F-16C/D Block 50/52 Plus fighter aircraft with AIM-9X Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles however the Bangladesh Air Force declined to purchase the aircraft without a full weapons package required to utilize the maximum capability of the combat aircraft.
The officials were speaking at the US Embassy in Dhaka on October 16, the report said. Bangladesh, one of the officials said, made the initial request for the military equipment in 2018. Aside from Apache attack helicopters, neither of the officials elaborated on the types of other advanced equipment Bangladesh wants to buy from the US.
The foundational agreements are Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). Both are bilateral in nature. GSOMIA is a legally binding deal that will ensure that the US advanced equipment and its knowhow will be protected from others.
“Since these are high-end equipment from the US defence industry, the conclusion of the agreements was required to transfer the machinery,” the government officials said.
The deal will include servicing, maintenance, training and supply of spare parts. The officials did not reveal the value of Bangladesh’s proposed purchase. “It is not possible to talk about the prices as long discussions regarding the agreements were pending,” the officials stated.
About the timeframe to conclude the agreements, one official said that it takes one year to sign an ACSA while it takes as long as four years to ink a GSOMIA.
The Bangladesh Air Force took up a plan to purchase 8 highly capable attack helicopters initially followed by additional units in future. Turkish-built T-129 and Russian Mi-35M were considered to be front contenders but the offer from the US trumped all competitors.
It is also seeking to purchase at least C-130H after the US counterparts informed they were unable to supply refurbished C-130J. This forced the Bangladesh Air Force to purchase 5 refurbished and upgraded C-130J Mk5 transport aircraft from the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom).
If the US fails to provide at least two C-130H transport aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force steps will be taken to procure additional units from the UK once again.
Meanwhile, the first C-130J upgraded by Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group is set to arrive in Bangladesh on the 24th of this month.
The Bangladesh Air Force has wholly revitalised its transport aircraft fleet with modern aircraft purchased from Western countries. It is planning to transform the fighter and helicopter fleets too with more modern Western platforms in the coming years.
The US government has asked Bangladesh Armed Forces to purchase more American made defence equipment. Bangladesh has agreed to purchase those provided prices are acceptable and without conditions.
Bangladesh and the USA are both seeking closer defence ties to ensure mutual interests are upheld.
This week Bangladesh’s state-owned Biman airlines inducted its third Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft purchased new from the US under a 10-aircraft deal worth $2.1 billion. Four Boeing 777-300ER, two 737-800 and three 787-8 have already been delivered under the 2008 deal. A fourth Boeing 878-8 airliner will be added to Biman’s fleet next month.
The national airlines has also been tasked with purchasing two cargo aircraft to facilitate rapid import-export of products. Bangladesh Airlines (Biman) is expanding with new routes including a non-stop flight to New York.