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Bangladesh - Defense Industry

Janes characterizes Bangladesh's defence industry as "nascent", with all existing infrastructure state-owned. The Bangladesh Army owns two factories that produce small arms and light vehicles, but Bangladesh nonetheless looks to imports for much of its small arms and all of its electronics gear and heavy weapons. Bangladesh, after decades of independence, still depends on imports of small- and medium-range arms for domestic use.

Bangladesh has no detectable aviation industry. There were rumors / reports in early 2012 that the "Bangabandhu Aeronautical Complex" was being constructed with the plan of manufacturing parts for aircraft, fully maintaining all types of aircraft locally, designing and manufacturing light aircraft, radar and communications equipment.

The country's first defense production facility was a munitions factory built during the Pakistan era with Chinese assistance. The Bangladesh Ordnance Factories [BOF] was established in Gazipur in 1970 with help of China. The factory was severely damaged by the Pakistan occupation forces during the war of independence in 1971.

Bangladesh had to court a variety of states for weapons and training support. A major breakthrough occurred in 1975, when China extended diplomatic recognition to Bangladesh following the normalization of relations between Dhaka and China's longtime ally, Pakistan. By the early 1980s, China had become Bangladesh's primary supplier of military equipment.

Because it depended on foreign sources for most of its military equipment, Bangladesh had a diverse weapons inventory. However, much of the inventory was obsolete, even by Third World standards. The diversity of equipment imposed severe maintenance problems for a military that lacked technical sophistication. Most overhauls of major equipment items had to be performed by foreign technicians or in the country of origin. Whenever these services have not been available -- for instance when Soviet military assistance ended after the 1975 coup -- foreign-supplied weapon systems have become inoperable. In extreme cases Bangladesh had to cannibalize weapon systems, such as older MiG-21 aircraft, to keep some of the inventory in operation.

After the government handed over the Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory, which was loss making, to Bangladesh Army in 2000, it assembled and made bodies of army vehicles, produced line hardware for Rural Electrification Board and Power Development Board and accessories for government and private industries. Diesel-run light and heavy commercial vehicles of Nissan were assembled in 2005 for the first time in the country at Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory, run by the Bangladesh army. BMFT imported vehicles in completely knocked down (CKD) and semi knocked down (SKD) conditions for assembling in the country.

Founded in 1979, BMTF is well equipped with variety of high production machineries & equipments for various engineering products. It has basic production facilities like casting, forging, machining, heat and surface treatment etc. It has thirteen large production shops along with administrative building, training school, residential area etc, within the complex.

Janes reports that, in terms of research and development, the one area where research has been productive is the field of tropical medicine. The Armed Forces Medical College and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, in spite of low funding and government priority, have been effective research and teaching organisations. The MoD has several small research and development units, including the the Department of Meteorology and the Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARSO).

Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on 13 April 2012 that Turkey and Bangladesh could take joint steps in the defense industry. "Turkey has a special place in the defense industry. Turkish contractors can assist Bangladesh in infrastructure and superstructure projects. There could be joint steps we can take with Bangladesh in the energy field as well... While we may be geographically far from each other, we are friendly and brotherly countries with Bangladesh. They have shown how close they are to Turkey by sending 1 million USD as aid to victims of the recent earthquake in Van province. I thank them for their assistance on behalf of my nation and myself. We have also not forgotten the support Bangladesh extended during our War of Liberation."

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Page last modified: 03-08-2012 18:32:00 ZULU