The Current Situation
Depend on what you mean by an air force, many small nations have air wings to their militaries but many are not combat aircraft and only have transport, trainers and utility and or unarmed patrol planes. Some people would define the Air Force as a service with combat capabilities. So if looking at the country with the smallest air wing it would be Bangladesh with donated C-130 transport aircraft from the US and the UK, and PT-6 basic trainer as their mainstay aircraft,– recently procured Yak-130 and K-8 trainer which Bangladeshi pilots crashed when they fly.
Bangladesh would be the smallest air force with combat capabilities with eight Mig-29s third generation fixed-wing aircraft that are limited in modern capability,– can carry only short-range A2A missile and free-fall bombs. The most important part of it, Bangladesh Air Force or domestically known as BAF’s aircraft are not ready at any time to be mounted with weapons. BAF’s pilots are also prone to crash aircraft in a clear sky.
Although, BAF’s motto is “Free shall we keep the sky of Bangladesh” but Bangladesh airspace can belong to anyone who wants it. Especially if they come at night because the Bangladesh Air Force doesn’t have the ability to fly at night. By 2018 Bangladesh Air Force became more ineffective, almost all of the BAF’s aircraft couldn’t even fly not because of the aircraft because of the pilots who are bearly trained to fly. The Bangladesh air force does not have the technical sophistication to carry out night sorties and certainly not to repeatedly hit the same target in darkness over a sustained period.
Stand-off with Myanmar
During the 2017 stand-off with Myanmar, the Myanmar Air Force was able to fly helicopter and drones over Bangladeshi airspace for more than 72 hours without any reciprocation from Bangladesh Air Force or the Army. Bangladeshi politicians resort to knocking the Chinese doorstep to help them bail out from an embarrassing situation.
In the 2017 confrontation with Myanmar (who also under sanctions by the West for ethnic cleansing) launched a series of provocation to Bangladesh with a constant threat to wiping out the vital infrastructure of Bangladesh like the Chittagong Seaport, Chittagong Airport and Cox Bazar airbase, Bangladesh resort to China to intervene and resolve the stand-off. Meanwhile, Bangladeshi politicians try to sort out the dispute whilst Bangladesh Air Force steps aside like a bystander.
The Myanmar Air Force which currently operates thirty-one Mig-29BM,–placed order for six Su-30SME and 16 JF17 from Pakistan. On the first day of any war, Bangladesh’s primitive airbases which are also used by civilian aeroplanes could have been taken out of the equation if a war broke between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Read More Contested Skies: BAF’s uncertain Future
You can visualize from the pictures that all aircrafts have been exposed like rotten tomatoes under the sun as Bangladesh Air Force never build any hangar or shelters for these aircraft. You can see that there is no ground infrastructure in place to maintain these aircrafts.
Bangladeshi media reported that BAF’s pilots get something like 20 flight hours a year. And when they do train, fuel reserves for actual flying are so scarce that their primary simulator is their imagination.
Bangladeshi military planner always portraits that Bangladesh Air Force’s detrimental state contributed by geopolitics between India and China. Meanwhile, the record of Bangladesh shows that there has been little effort to modernise the military, corruption, incompetence, diversion of funds, primitive military infrastructure, poor management decision and poorly trained pilots contributed to the current state. Bangladesh Army and Navy could be under potential threat of extinction by any regional air force while their air cover is away.
Read More Bangladesh Air Force: A Band of Morons
That’s a big deal, considering their Army is also a mess and that the only reason Bangladesh maintained a military is to prevent civil unrest and send the semi-professional men and women to UN peacekeeping mission to earn extra few dollars. Historically, Bangladesh’s successes against Pakistan in 1971 because of their patron in India. That was a long time ago.
Bangladesh aircraft are so old, a few of them could have actually been flyable at any War against their main enemy Myanmar, the best this air force could do is create a target-rich environment. The biggest loss would be Bangladesh’s ability to protect Bangladesh vital infrastructure in the Chittagong region as Bangladesh has no meaningful airforce or air defence systems. The only credible air defence system Bangladesh has–is Chinese-made short range ground-based HQ-7 based at the capital city, Dhaka.
The military high-command thinks that simple punitive measures or disciplinary action would not be enough to deal with the problem. Military officials say they are now planning to launch an Aids-awareness programme among military personnel.
Finally, there is a lot of talk about Bangladesh military right now, if the Bangladesh government made an effort to curve corruption in the defence sector and avoid diversion of the $3.45 billion defence budget to military’s commercial project then Bangladesh military maybe well-equipped to fight a war or at least deter violation their sovereignty.
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