The Bangladesh government is continuing to beef up the country’s Air Force (Bānglādēśh Bimān Bāhinī; BBB). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina confirmed on Wednesday 10 December that the BBB will get more trainers, more helicopters and more transport aircraft.
Mrs. Sheikh Hasina visited Bangladesh Airbase Bangabandhu near the city of Kurmitola while making her statements. She came to inspect the Hongdu (Karakorum) K-8W jet trainer. Arrived in September 2014, Bangabandhu is home to 9 of these newly Chinese-built aircraft. The W-version has a digital cockpit. Recently Bangladesh also ordered 24 Russian-made Yak-130 advanced jet trainers.
According to the country’s Prime Minister, more aircraft are on their way: Mil Mi-171 tactical transport helicopters, possible more Nanchang PT-6 basic trainers and Let L-410 transport aircraft. When it comes to the PT-6 it might mean bringing old aircraft back to airworthy status. The Bangladesh Air Force still flies almost two dozen of these Chinese built propeller planes, but took delivery of 40 aircraft of the type.
The Bangladesh Air Force has a very mixed fleet of aircraft. The primary air defence fighter is the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29, of which 6 single- and 2 double-seaters are operational. There are plans to upgrade them to MiG-29SMT (single) and MiG-29UBM (two-seat) standards, but Airheadsfly.com could not confirm the progress made on the negotiations with Russia. It is believed that the Bangladesh Air Force is first improving its flying skills before the country’s leadership will make a decision to replace the 30 operational Chengdu F-7 fighter-bombers.
When it comes to the transport fleet Let L-410 Turbolet might be a welcome replacement or addition for the about 30 year old three Antonov AN-32s delivered by the then Soviet Union in the 1980s. Dhaka is also searching for doubling its fleet of four Lockheed C-130E Hercules aircraft.
In April 2014 Bangladesh placed an order for five Mil Mi-171s to bring the total force up to 16 helicopters of the type. It is uncertain if Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is looking for even more of these modern versions of the “Hip”. The Bangladesh Air Force is operating older Mi-17s (16-18) and a dozen ex-US Armed Forces Bell 212s.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger