Bangladesh and the United Kingdom recently held the Fourth Strategic Dialogue in London to strengthen the entire gamut of bilateral ties including in areas of defence and security cooperation.
This is the first time the two friendly nations are holding face to face talks since Brexit. The last strategic dialogue at the senior level was held on May 5, 2019, in Dhaka.
According to the Bangladeshi press, the two countries will address key areas of concern such as the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the Rohingya issue and defence cooperation.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen were both in the United Kingdom to coordinate the efforts with their British counterparts.
The Bangladesh Air Force obtained five C-130J Super Hercules (C5) from the Royal Air Force, with three already delivered. Another two are being overhauled and modified by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at Cambridge. They will be delivered by April 2022, according to Bangladesh Air Force sources.
With reference to the Third Bangladesh-UK Strategic Dialogue, it was stated that the United Kingdom expressed its readiness to support the Bangladesh Air Force in its bid to procure multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) alongside other modernisation programs in air defence.
Accordingly, the Bangladesh Air Force is making headway into the procurement of Eurofighter Typhoon MRCA with the support of the United Kingdom. It is also integrating its air defence sensors using state of the art UK-made systems, which will be added once funding is secured.
The Bangladesh Air Force will reportedly procure sixteen MRCAs at the cost of $3 billion from Leonardo, which is represented by the Bashundhara Group. This is the largest ever single defence acquisition project ever undertaken in the history of Bangladesh.
The MRCA deal excludes armaments packages, which will be procured separately.
This acquisition, alongside previous Western air defence radar systems, simulators, aviation accessories and MRO enhancement capabilities will ensure a revolutionary leap in capability for the Bangladesh Air Force, according to The Bangladesh Defence Analyst portal
It will better equip the Bangladesh government with a bargaining chip during regional diplomatic challenges when pressure needs to be applied in the face of unwanted crisis.
Already Martin-Baker established an MRO facility for supporting Mk.10 ejection seats that are fitted on Bangladesh Air Force's F-7 and K-8 combat aircraft.
High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the United Kingdom Saida Muna Tasneem has been tirelessly working in the background to strengthen defence and security cooperation between Bangladesh and the United Kingdom through meaningful, mutually beneficial activities such as defence acquisitions, advanced training and exercises for the Bangladesh Armed Forces.
Ash Rahman heads a team of aviation and defence industry experts at The Bangladesh Defence Analyst with over 15 years of experience in the sector.