Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: Bangladesh Air Force deserves only the best

The Eurofighter is sure to give our air force an edge

Update : 21 Sep 2021, 10:46 AM

When we floated the idea of the Eurofighter Typhoon in the Bangladesh Air Force, most people were shocked. How dare they suggest? They mocked as if Bangladesh Air Force would never be good enough to operate the Eurofighter or any high calibre combat aircraft. This mockery is deep-seeded in the psychology implanted into their minds by the old generation

Since the present government took office about 11 years ago, they slowly started rebuilding the air force but the air force still had many challenges. Almost everything had to be replaced or built anew. Today the Bangladesh Air Force maintains a very impressive Air Force Academy. It is building an airmen training institute that can rival the best in the world.

But more importantly, it is rebuilding its operational capabilities from the ground up.

This is after all the air force which can trace its origins back to people like Tawab and Azam, who literally shot to fame with their air combat abilities.

Along its journey, it was decided the air force required a new multi-role combat aircraft. It made sense to purchase the Su-30, but there was one problem -- nearly all of Bangladesh’s neighbours operate the same platform. It would not provide the air force with any significant operational advantage and do away with the element of surprise. This element of surprise is interestingly why the Pakistan Air Force has a combat edge over their much larger Indian counterparts.

Fast forward to the time of Air Chief Marshal Esrar’s era. The larger than life man with a vision to boot decided it was time for a revolutionary change within the Bangladesh Air Force. Do away with Chinese and Russian combat aircraft and go for a complete Westernization that will introduce a new level of standard, improve morale within the force, and integrate the air force as one operational, war-ready body with brains and brawn. 

It was now truly time for the head-spinning, neighbour-whopping Eurofighter Typhoon. Yes, the aircraft once purchased may cost nearly the same as a navy frigate, it might be the most expensive piece of military hardware in the entire armed forces -- but every bit of it is worth it.

We know for a fact the Eurofighter has no equal in its race to become the queen of the hanger. The nearest rival, albeit an attractive one, is the Rafale -- Made in France, no less than a Chanel or Guerlain of the fighter world. Sleek, beautiful, quite possibly the epitome of sophistication. But there is one problem, well not one, but many as you will find out shortly.

The Eurofighter as it turns out is less expensive than the Rafale. It is also a fighter where parts are a lot easier to obtain given there are four suppliers out there. Compared to that, the Rafale is manufactured and sold by France. It means the Bangladesh Air Force would become beholden to the whims of one manufacturer and one country. On the flip side, it also means if the Bangladesh Air Force acquired the Eurofighter, it could revert to three other suppliers if one of the suppliers does not have those parts.

Moreover, the Bangladesh Air Force and local industries would enjoy the support and access to four high-tech European countries that can in turn help build Bangladesh’s aerospace industries. There can be no denying that the exchange of operation and maintenance experience with four of the world’s most important air forces can lead to positive outcomes.

Now put your diplomatic hat on. Today almost all the Gulf countries are using the Eurofighter, it is not only the Eurofighter, but the Muslim world’s top-fighter platform too. This means the Bangladesh Air Force personnel will have opportunities to train and operate alongside the air forces of the GCC. 

It means after retirement, the Bangladesh Air Force personnel can attain leading roles as QFIs, engineers, and technicians in highly paid roles in the Middle East. For the first time, the Bangladesh Air Force will penetrate a market that was long the sole domain of the Pakistan Air Force, which operates the F-16, also a commonly held fighter aircraft in the GCC arsenal.

Now heading over back to the region, we have to understand that we need to maintain a technical deterrence over India. If the Bangladesh Air Force purchased the Rafale or the Su-30, it would lose all and any such deterrence because to get the same aircraft doesn’t mean to have the same deterrence capability. A better aircraft is always the better solution -- which is why again, the Eurofighter is the better option.

The Eurofighter has a wider payload option, an engine with better thrust and faster speeds. It also has a greater operational range and is operated by more air forces and in larger numbers than the Rafale.

The professionals have recommended the aircraft based on scientific studies, geopolitical considerations, and financial viability. The Eurofighter will give the Bangladesh Air Force an edge. A deterrence capability they had been lacking since the independence of Bangladesh.

We did not achieve independence through the war so that we can lose it again. Those who sacrificed their lives for creating Bangladesh dreamt of a powerful country that can stand tall among other nations of the international community. We collectively need to ensure the best for our nation.

Let Eurofighter roar above the skies of the Hill Tracts, through the greens of the Sundarbans and over Dhaka’s soaring skyline.

Ash Rahman heads a team of aviation and defence industry experts at The Bangladesh Defence Analyst with over 15 years of experience in the sector.

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