Bangladesh finalises deals with China for 2 submarines

Bangladesh has finalised a deal to buy two submarines from China as part of its plans to develop a three-dimensional navy, according to a media report today.

The two Ming-class submarines are expected to strengthen the navy’s ability to protect maritime resources and territorial waters, the New Age newspaper quoted unidentified officials as saying.

“The state-to-state deal would cost Bangladesh Taka 1,600 crore or USD 203.3 million to procure the two Ming-class submarines,” the report said.

submarineOfficials from the navy or military’s media arm were not immediately available for comment but the report came four months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the government’s plans to procure submarines.

In August, Hasina told a navy ceremony that, despite economic constraints, her government is committed to building a modern and balanced three-dimensional naval force for safeguarding interests in the high seas and littoral regions.

According to earlier reports, the Type 035G diesel-electric submarines were scheduled to be delivered in 2019. The navy decided to make payments to the Chinese state-owned firm that makes the submarines from the current fiscal to 2017-18.

The navy said 17 officials had been trained to operate submarines and it had acquired land on KutubdiaIsland in southwestern Cox’s Bazaar to set up a submarine base.

“We need to have a robust maritime presence as a strategic nation,” Maj Gen (retired) A N M Muniruzzaman, a defence analyst, told a news agency.

The Indian Ocean has become the “most strategic maritime theatre” with India, China and the US being the key actors, particularly after America’s maritime policy began focussing on the region, he said.

The submarine deal will be the second major defence agreement this year. Bangladesh earlier finalised a USD 1 billion deal with Russia to procure Mi-17 helicopters, combat trainer aircraft, armoured personnel carriers, anti-tank missiles and pontoon bridges.

Analysts have said this deal appeared to be a diplomatic shift as Russia was not a traditional source of weapons. The Bangladeshi military is more familiar with weapons from China and the US, they said.