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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh wants to buy combat fighters, Apache helicopters, missile systems from US

US officials in Dhaka say work in progress to ink two agreements to make the purchase happen

Update : 17 Oct 2019, 04:51 PM

Bangladesh has proposed to the United States to purchase advanced military equipment including multi-role combat fighters, Apache attack helicopters and surface-to-air missile systems, according to US government officials.

Both countries are currently negotiating two agreements that are required by the US law for the purchase to go ahead that will expand the military cooperation between the countries, said the two officials, preferring anonymity, while talking to a select group of reporters at the US Embassy in Dhaka yesterday.

However, when contacted by Dhaka Tribune, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque declined to comment on the matter.

The foundational agreements are Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). Both are bilateral in nature.

ACSA refers to an agreement between the US coalition partners that allow US forces to exchange most common types of support, including food, fuel, transportation, ammunition, and equipment. The agreement does not, in any way, commit a country to any military action.

GSOMIA is a legally binding deal that will ensure that the US advanced equipment and its knowhow will be protected from others.

The officials, however, did not say how much it would cost Bangladesh to make the proposed purchase.

They said it was not possible to talk about the prices as long discussions regarding the agreements were pending.

The initial request from Bangladesh for more advanced equipment include attack helicopters, multi-role combat fighters aircraft, surface-to-air missile system and few other things that were made back in 2018, said one of the officials.

For instance, the official said that they offered Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) two types of attack helicopters and BAF opted for the AH-64 Apache helicopters. “Now, the air force is waiting for the approval of the civilian leadership.”

“We are supportive of it [Bangladesh’s proposal],” said the other official, expressing optimism to ink the deals soon to pave the way for the purchases.

But neither of the officials elaborated on the types of other advanced equipment Bangladesh wants to buy from the US.

Since these are high-end equipment from the US defence industry, the conclusion of the agreements was required to transfer the machinery, they said, and added that there were certain non-advanced equipments that can be purchased without such agreements.

All purchased advanced equipment from the US will come with a number of facilities that include servicing, maintenance, training and supply of spare parts.

One of the officials said that Bangladesh military has now come to a point to feel that it can now have advanced US equipment, and Washington is positive about it as cooperation between the militaries of two countries has been on the rise.

“Bangladesh has known about these agreements for quite some time,” the official said, but declined to comment on the status of the negotiations regarding the two agreements.

Both officials also noted that Bangladesh military has been using the US equipment sensibly, leading Washington to consider selling advanced equipment — which will help Dhaka achieve Forces Goal 2030, a long-term modernization program for Bangladesh’s armed forces.

About the timeframe to conclude the agreements, one official said that it takes one year to sign an ACSA while it takes as long as four years to ink a GSOMIA.

To a question on possible objection from China, the main supplier of arms to Bangladesh military, about the proposed purchases from the US, the official said that it was for Bangladesh to decide from where it would buy the arms.

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