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Chinese Impressions on Bangladesh Armed Forces

Published Jan 26, 2020
Updated Feb 29, 2020

A Chinese article titled “Another trial of strength in the Indian Ocean, large batch of Chinese made guided missiles fired to the sky, the military sent out a warning”, published in Weibo microblogging website by one Weibo ID on 21 January 2020 is reproduced below:

[Recently, another trial of strength has begun in the Indian Ocean. Not only did more than 60 large and small ships of the Bangladesh Navy participate in it, but also a large number of Chinese-made missiles were launched to the sky. Bangladesh, which has always had a low-key presence, has unexpectedly set out such an extensive battle. What the hell happened? As a matter of fact, it turned out that this is the largest real-arms live fire exercise organised by Bangladesh in recent years and this move was undoubtedly directed at Myanmar with which it has a territorial dispute and at India, with which the relation is not at all in harmony. Obviously, the warning issued by the military this time is no longer the usual diplomatic verbal warning that is of no consequence / irrelevant.

From the historical perspective, Bangladesh can also be grateful to India for instigating third India-Pakistan war to realise independence. For a period of time, India was its ancestor /suzerain (state), but, the India of British colony class origin also passed on the bad practices of many colonizers. India has not only made undue demands to Bangladesh on natural resources and other issues, still there is much significance of fostering it as a puppet. So, the relationship between Bangladesh and India has been cold for a long time. Even if it has improved in recent years, at present it can only be described as tepid.

Therefore, the national territory (Bangladesh) is almost encircled by India, an Asian military power that may turn its face at any time. Coupled with the dispute over the ownership of islands and the division of economic waters with Myanmar, which makes it very important for Bangladesh to maintain a strong army. Even so, the overall economic strength of Bangladesh is better than Vietnam, in its small land there are more than 160 million people who needed to be fed. From the perspective of building a national defence force, this means that although the military reserves are sufficient and it also means the military expenditures are tense. Because of this, the excellent Chinese equipment at modest prices has become the first choice of Bangladesh military to enhance its combat effectiveness.

At present, the strength of the Bangladeshi regular army (military) is about 140000, of which the army occupies 120000. The armoured unit is relatively large in number, equipped with hundreds of tanks, but it actually lacks modern main battle tanks that meet the third-generation standards. Only the 44 MBT2000 (tanks) imported in recent years are truly worthy of the war, and most of the rest are imitations of the former Soviet Union T54 first-generation main battle tank. Even after modernization and upgrading, it is still difficult to adapt to the modern battlefield environment. Deterring Myanmar, which has a short border along the east, is acceptable, but it appears to be incapable of facing the T72 and T90S tanks of the Indian Army on the west.

The Bangladesh Air Force is a typical economically applicable force. According to statistics, the total number of combat aircraft is only about 60. The main equipment is more than 30 J-7BGs born from the MiG-21, which is the top model of the second-generation aircraft, which can launch precision-guided weapons for ground attack, but does not have beyond-horizon air combat capabilities, and the most advanced is the 8 Russian-made three-generation MiG 29 introduced at the end of the last century, but due to lack of early warning support, relying only on ground command and guidance makes it difficult to fully utilize combat effectiveness. In general, the Bangladesh Air Force is also an air force that can barely compete with Myanmar but cannot ensure air dominance and mainly performs ground attack missions.

Comparatively speaking, the Navy of this country is a relatively strong force. It is not only equipped with many upgraded vessels, it has a number of 053 series frigates with a displacement of 2000 tons as well as a number of missile boats and frigates. It also has the ability to build small surface combat vessels itself with the help of China and even owns two 035G submarines. Moreover, it has Chinese made carrier borne weapons like C704 anti-ship missiles and F90 anti-aircraft missiles. By integrating the old warships acquired from South Korea, United States and Britain, Bangladesh has got increased its combat effectiveness and won the praise of its military. It is not difficult to foresee that Bangladesh and China will also carry out profound and far-reaching cooperation in the building of national defence capabilities.]

[Translation by Manoj Nair, translated script has not been verified and hence any discrepancies if noticed could be brought to the notice of the editor for corrections.]