Not only the number of divisions of Bangladesh Army have increased, but procurement of armaments and equipment to equip the new divisions and to modernize the existing force have become a primary concern for the military authority. As per the directives laid down in Forces Goal 2030, Bangladesh Army is trying best to attain its aim.
For the 2015-16 fiscal years, Bangladesh Army has planned to procure a wide array of weaponries and equipment. For last couple of years Army has procured different types of armaments, started joint production of missiles and tried to find out new sources around the world. For the current year Bangladesh Army has decided to procure new hardware ranging from heavy equipment to advanced systems to cope up with the new and evolving challenges.
According to concerned sources, Army is considering to purchase advanced systems like C4I, VSAT, UAVs along with long distance 155 mm howitzers, Light Armored Vehicle- LAVs, Night Vision Goggles- NVGs, HF and VHF sets, Radio Relay, Modern Soldiers’ System (includes ballistic helmet, body armor, eye protective goggles, hand held GPS, soldier role radio with head to head communicator), Air Defense Radar, 105 mm howitzers and number of other equipment. The procurement trend suggests that Bangladesh Army is trying to modernize its armament and replace its ageing equipment. Especially for the artillery corps, Army is planning to rejuvenate the field regiment artillery with sophisticated 105 mm howitzers and acquire long awaited 155 mm howitzers. Sources indicates that procuring 155 mm howitzers might be difficult this year due to financial constraints though it’s placed with importance in the shopping list.
It is observed that Bangladesh Army, which traditionally has been using different types and classes of Chinese hardware since the late seventies, is trying to stretch its hands towards other sources including European, American and South African sources. Many companies from around the world including USA, France, South Africa, Turkey, Croatia and Serbia are now showing their interests to sell their armaments and equipment to Bangladesh Army. By this time number of groups have already visited Bangladesh and appraised the military authority about their expertise. Simultaneously it is also learnt from another source that, China is going to propose for a loan protocol of one billion US Dollar to Bangladesh Armed Forces. If this is materialized then a bulk of hardware might come from China, though Bangladesh Navy would be in the pristine list of Chinese government.
We have tried to give a little detail of the proposed major procurement of Bangladesh Army for the fiscal year of 2015-16. Along with this, armaments and equipment of probable sources are analyzed in brief.
For the 2015-16 fiscal year, Bangladesh Army has planned to procure 18 units of 155 mm howitzers. Approximate budget allocation is around 36 million US Dollar (per unit 02 million USD). The robable contenders might be;
Panzerhaubitze 2000 (“armored howitzer 2000”), abbreviated PzH 2000
PzH 2000 is a German 155 mm self-propelled howitzer developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall for the German Army. The PzH 2000 is one of the most powerful conventional artillery systems deployed in the 2010s. It is particularly notable for a very high rate of fire; in burst mode it can fire three rounds in 9 seconds, ten rounds in 56 seconds, and can—depending on barrel heating—fire between 10 and 13 rounds per minute continuously. The PzH 2000 has automatic support for up to 5 rounds of Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact (MRSI). The replenishment of shells is automated. Two operators can load 60 shells and propelling charges in less than 12 minutes. PzH 2000 has also been selected by the armies of Italy, Netherlands, Greece and Croatia, and more orders are probable as many NATO forces replace their M109 howitzers.
CAESAR from Camion Equipé d’un Système d’Artillerie (French: Truck equipped with an artillery system)
CAESAR is a 155 mm/52-calibre gun-howitzer installed on a 6X6 truck chassis. Examples built for the French Army use a Renault Sherpa 10 chassis, examples built for export utilize the 6x6 Unimog U2450L chassis. The CAESAR platform was developed by the former GIAT Industries (now known as Nexter) and is operated by the French, Indonesian, Saudi Arabian, and Thai militaries.
M777 howitzer is a towed 155 mm artillery piece, successor to the M198 howitzer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army. The M777 is also used by the ground forces of Canada and Australia. It made its combat debut in the War in Afghanistan.
The M777 is manufactured by BAE Systems‘ Global Combat Systems division. Prime contract management is based in Barrow-in-Furness in the UK as well as manufacture and assembly of the titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and testing of the weapon is undertaken at BAE‘s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Artillery corps has planned to procure 36 units of 105 mm howitzer where per unit might cost 0.7 million US Dollar and total budget might be approximately 25.2 million US Dollar. But according to source, except China to get a principal for 105 mm would be difficult right at this moment. Here we have presented one of the finest 105 mm howitzers of French and UK origin which could be considered for Bangladesh Army:
Nexter LG1 MkII
The LG1 howitzer is a 105 mm towed artillery piece that features both low weight and a high level of accuracy over long distances. The gun was specifically designed for use by rapid deployment forces with attributes such as ruggedness, ease of operation and reduced weight. It can fire all NATO standard 105 mm ammunition up to a range of 18.5 and 19.5 kilometres (11.5 and 12.1 mi) using HE-ER G2 and US M913 rounds. The gun has found its way into the service of the Belgian Army, Canadian Army, Colombian National Army, Indonesian Army, Singapore Army and the Royal Thai Army.
[Latest information suggest that as Nexter is supplied to the Indian Army, this very model might not be available for Bangladesh]
L118 Light Gun
The L118 light gun is a 105 mm towed howitzer. It was originally produced for the British Army in the 1970s and has been widely exported since, including to the United States, where a modified version is known as the "M119 howitzer". The proper name for it is "gun, 105mm, field, L118" but it is almost always called the "light gun".
Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP)
Bangladesh Army intends to procure 100 units of LAVs within a span of five years. For the current fiscal year they have planned to purchase 20 units. Approximate budget for this 20 units might be 16 million US Dollar. The following might be considered for procurement given to their prominence in service around the world:
The RG-31 Nyala is a 4×4 multi-purpose mine-resistant ambush protected infantry mobility vehicle manufactured in South Africa by Land Systems OMC, It is a division of Denel SOC LTD, located in Benoni, South Africa and in Turkey by FNSS Defense Systems. It is based on the Mamba APC of TFM Industries.
The vehicle accommodates a crew of 8 or 10, including the driver, depending on model. Dismounting is provided via a large rear door and two front doors.
The RG-31 has become the multi-purpose vehicle of choice of the UN and other peacekeeping and security forces. It is finding favor with non-governmental organizations requiring a vehicle with a non-aggressive appearance to protect their personnel against land mines.
Current operators include (but not limited to) US Army Special Operations Command, US Army, US Marines Corps, Canadian Forces, United Nations, South Africa & Spain.
Denel RG32M LTV
The RG32M LTV is an enhanced mine protected variant of the successful RG32M Patrol Vehicle, that provides even better crew safety and blast survivability.
The latest variant incorporates a V-shaped hull that protects the crew against Armor-Piercing (AP) rifle fire and Anti-Tank (AT) mine detonations.
It allows a crew of 4 (Driver, commander + 2, depending on options fitted, it can allow more).
Otokar Cobra 2
The Cobra (Turkish: Kobra) is an infantry mobility vehicle developed by Turkish firm Otokar which uses some mechanical components and sub-systems of the HMMWV. The monocoque steel v-hull provides protection against small arms fire, artillery shell shrapnel, and to a certain degree against anti-personnel/tank mines and IEDs. Front wheel arches are designed to be blown away to free blast pockets.
It allows a crew of 1+8, including the driver.
Current operators includes the Turkish Army, Slovenian Army, Pakistan and Georgia.
The REVA Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) is a mine-protected vehicle. It is produced by ICP South Africa. The vehicle’s V-shaped hull offers protection against land mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)s. The vehicle has space for at least 10 passengers. Ten firing ports are also available. Two light machine guns can be used and cover a 360-degree on roller bearing turret hatches.
It can carry a crew of 10 including the driver.
Current operators include Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, South Sudan, Egypt & Iraq.
Bangladesh ARMY is very much interested to procure and implement C4I system. It will take 15 years to complete the full project of C4I only Bangladesh ARMY. Due to its high cost and long timeframe, Bangladesh ARMY doesn’t want to take any risk. That’s why they are further evaluating the plan and may be by next year there will be a decision to procure them. In 15 Years the cost of a full C4I system will be 200 Million US Dollar. Following companies are two of a very few companies who provide complete C4I solution having large scale of experience;
The Harris Group C4I includes (but not limited to) the following features:
• Integrated tactical networks that need high speed and high capacity
• Converged networks that need to integrate tactical, LTE, P25 and Tetra
• Command and control communications networks that need to be fast paced and fluid, but also stable
• Tactical radio country-wide repeater networks that need to be ever ready for secure access and coverage
• Vehicular Networks that need to support the flow of data, both on the move and at the halt.
OBORONA LTD is a leading provider of C5I (command, control, communications, computers, combat systems, and intelligence), C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence), C3 (command, control and communications) and C2 (command and control) fusion centres.
Night Vision Goggles (NVG)
Though Bangladesh ARMY was very much looking forward to procure monocular Night Vision Device due to its multipurpose usage but, bureaucratic complicacy has cast a shadow on the very procurement. So, this year they will have to stick with the Biocular Night Vision Device. Even for Biocular NVD, DGDP has held up the tender which was floated in the second week of February 2016 for some unavoidable circumstances. However, around 4 Million US Dollars has been allocated for 1400 Units of NVDs.
Modern Soldier Protection
Tender for 3000 Unit Body Armor, 1875 Unit Eye Protective Goggles and 10,000 Unit Ballistic Helmet have been floated. Sources indicate that beside US, China and some EU countries South Africa also showed interest to participate in the tender. Around 4 million US Dollars has been allocated for this procurement.
As decided by the army hierarchy, DGDP has floated tender to procure 1 Unit of Dynamic and 1 Unit of Static Simulator for MBT 2000 Tank along with another unit of Static Simulator for T69 IIG Tank. Chinese and Ukrainian companies might participate in this tender. It is to be mentioned here that earlier tank simulators for Chinese tanks were procured from Ukraine.
To protect our troops deployed in Mali from mine blasts, Bangladesh ARMY has decided to procure 20 Unit Remote Controller IED Jammers. These Jammers will be installed inside the upcoming MRAPs. Around 3.5 Million US Dollar has been allocated for this particular procurement. Companies from China, Germany, South Korea, UK and USA are expected to bid.
Apart from the above mentioned major procurements, Bangladesh Army has already signed contract to procure 08 UAVs from Italy. This genre of UAV is catapult launched, short range surveillance UAV which is costing 3.9 million US Dollar. Among other planning to purchase is - VSAT (vehicular) which might cost around 3.5 million US Dollars.
The procurement of Bangladesh Army this year is ambitious which indicates their willingness to upgrade their equipments in accordance to their forces goal 2030 and their ever growing requirements in the UN peace keeping operations around the world. It is expected that this trend is to continue in the coming years.