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Bangladesh Army - Modernization

Throughout its existence, the Bangladesh Army has had to contend with severe shortages of weapons, communications equipment, spare parts, and transport vehicles. One 1982 report maintained that target practice--a basic military skill--was restricted because of ammunition shortages. Under these conditions, it is doubtful the army could fight a conventional war for more than a few days without massive assistance from a foreign power.

Bangladesh first got tanks in 1974 during Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's trip to Egypt. The then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat presented Bangabandhu with 44 tanks that were in good shape. The army's armor regiments in the mid-1980s were equipped with Type 59, Type 54/55, and, its most recent acquisition, Type 62 light tanks (not to be confused with Soviet Type 62 medium tanks). The Type 59 main battle tank and Type 62 light tanks were supplied directly by China. Details regarding the terms of purchase, the training of Bangladeshi tank crews, and maintenance arrangements were never publicized. Following the series of coups and mutinies that erupted between 1975 and 1977, Zia removed the army's tanks from Dhaka in order to guard against further coups. The appearance of Type 59 and Type 62 tanks at the Victory Day parade in Dhaka in 1987, however, marked the first time that any tanks had appeared in a Victory Day parade and suggested that tanks may again be deployed in the vicinity of the capital.

The government took initiatives in 2003 to buy tanks for the army, but that initiative did not see the light of day due to budgetary limitations. The government was supposed to buy seven tanks in 2010 and seven more in 2011. But only a Chinese company took part in the tender, the government cancelled it, and re-invited tender in which four companies from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Pakistan participated. Later the army requested the government to buy 44 tanks instead of 14. Chinese company Norinco was selected as the lowest bidder in June 2011 for the Main Battle Tanks (MBT-2000) for $160 million for the tanks and three armored recovery vehicles (ARV). The tanks were to be delivered in phases over a span of 27 months. In the first phase 24 tanks will come within 20 months of the contract award [by early 2013], and the rest would come in the second phase over the following 7 months [by the end of 2013].

The first artillery unit of Bangladesh Army was formed on July 22, 1971 in Konaban of India with six cannons (3.7 inch Howitzers) including the two presented by India. The newly formed artillery was named after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Mujib Battery took part in the Liberation War under the K Force in Sector-2 and used the cannons in the battlefield.

Other army weapons included 105mm and 122mm howitzers, 60mm and 120mm mortars, and 57mm, 76mm, and 106mm antitank weapons. The weapons had been acquired from a variety of sources, including as spoils of war from the Pakistan Army. In 2011 the Army signed a draft deal with the countries concerned to purchase 18 new cannons.

A report of the Army, analysing the allocations and expenditures of the past four fiscal years was placed before the parliamentary standing committee on defence ministry on 28 May 2009. The report identifies insufficient funding as the key problem to starting replacement of outdated weaponry. Most of our weapons are from the 1960s and 70s, which belittles our overall military prowess, it said. According to the report, 90.3 percent small arms and 89 percent field artillery guns used by the army were bought during 1960s-80s while all the tanks are from that period.

The Bangladesh Army has begun inducting fourth-generation China-made MTB-2000 tanks. Bangladesh has placed an order for 44 MBT2000 tanks. The deal is worth $162 million. In January 2014 it was erroneously reported that the Bangladesh army was in the process of procuring "2,000 Main Battle Tanks" from China at the cost of 162 million dollars. The MBT2000 is the Al Khalid tanks, in the service of the Pakistan army since 2001. This was the first time Bangladesh has obtained newly assembled Main Battle Tanks (MBTs). The existence of the main battle tank Type 90-II MBT (also called MBT 2000) was first revealed in late 1991. China's MBT2000 tank performance close to the India T90S





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