Bangladesh is getting closer to Eurofighter Typhoon
Following the need for the modernization of Bangladesh's armed forces, Dhaka is preparing to finalize some of the most interesting defense contracts in recent years. The main one concerns the purchase of a new multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) to replace (or initially integrate) the old F-7 and MiG-29 jets of the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF).
Under the 'Forces Goal 2030' program, in 2017 the Bangladesh Directorate General Defense Purchase (DGDP) launched the tender for the procurement of eight fighter aircraft (plus option for an additional four), which was subsequently increased to 16 jets.
BAF is looking for a newly built fighter powered by two engines with at least 5,500 kg of dry thrust and over 8,000 kg with afterburner each and with at least eight weapon attachment points and a minimum payload of 5,000 kg.
The government demands that the fighter be equipped with an electronically-scanned radar array with an air-to-air range of 150 km and an air-to-surface range of 50 km. The aircraft will also have to include an Integrated Electronic Warfare (EW) and Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) suite; Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system with a target tracking range of at least 50 km; helmet mounted display and viewfinder system (HMD/S) with cueing; head-up display (HUD) and modern glass cockpit.
BAF is looking for a complete package that includes aircraft, maintenance and training, and a range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons. It must also provide for the opening of a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country.
Initially the main contenders were UAC's Russian Su-35, MiG-35 and Su-30SM fighters, however, in the last couple of years, the nation has started targeting mostly Western aircraft (westernization plan).
A source close to the Bangladeshi Defense told Blog Before Flight that at the top of the list is the Eurofighter Typhoon, offered to the nation by the Italian aerospace firm Leonardo. In addition, Dhaka could also select other 'Made in Italy' systems such as the AW101 medium-lift/multirole helicopter and the C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, the latter to replace the old An-32 fleet.
Leonardo boasts well-established commercial relations with Bangladesh, especially in the rotary wing sector. BAF already operates AW119 and AW139 helicopters, while the Bangladeshi Navy fleet includes the AW109M. In 2019, BAF also ordered Leonardo's KRONOS LAND air surveillance radar.
BAF's modernization plan also includes procurement of Boeing Apache attack helicopters, TAI Hurkus basic trainer/ground attack aircraft and TAI Anka armed drones.