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Bangladesh building up Military in a Regional Arms Race

Bangladesh will domestically build 6 guided missile frigates and has ordered two submarines from China. They have two Chinese Ming-class submarines on order which are to be delivered by 2019. The total submarine order is about $200 million.

In the past, the Bangladesh Army has been equipped with Chinese tanks, its navy has Chinese frigates and missile boats and the Bangladesh Air Force flies Chinese fighter jets.

Bangladesh’s regional neighbors Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also depend on Chinese military supplies; as do other Muslim-majority countries of similar size, including Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan.

Bangladesh initially looked to acquire brand-new submarines of a more contemporary design such as the Type 041 Yuan, which China reportedly offered for $250 million apiece, budgetary constraints meant that the BN had to ultimately settle for two used Type-035G Ming-class submarines instead. Financial issues probably also stopped the Bangladeshis from considering Russia’s offer to sell Kilo-class submarines. The two Type-035G boats ordered in 2013 for a sum of $203 million and now commissioned as BNS Nabajatra and Joyjatra, respectively, have typical Ming class features, with a submerged displacement of 2,110 tonnes, an overall length of 76 meters, beam of 7.6 m, hull draught of 5.1 m, and a top speed of 18 knots when submerged. Each boat has a complement of 47 sailors and 10 officers and sports eight 533 mm tubes that can deploy weapons such as Yu-3 and Yu-4 heavyweight torpedoes. A total of either 14 torpedoes or 32 naval mines can be carried by these boats. The two submarines have an integrated sonar and electronic warfare suite with Chinese derivatives of Western origin systems.

Bangladesh’s acquisition of an undersea capability also comes at a time of heightened tensions with Myanmar over the Rohingya issue and turmoil all along Myanmar’s Arakanese coastline.

Bangledesh has a population of 170 million and a growing economy, Bangladesh has been positioning itself as a leader among the G77 group of developing countries and it should be noted that it is a top contributor to UN peacekeeping missions.

India-China contest for influence in the Bay of Bengal.


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