China To Boost Military Cooperation With Bangladesh And Pakistan

Officials of the Bangladeshi Navy received two Chinese Type-053H3 frigates – Jiaxing and Lianyungang. The official handover ceremony happened in Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard. Bangladesh purchased the missile frigates in 2018. The frigates will boost the maritime capability of the Bangladesh Navy.

Type-053H3 frigates have a length of 112m and a displacement of 2,250 tons (standard). A total of 10 Type-053H3 frigates were built for the Chinese Navy in the period from 2005 to 2010. The frigates received by Bangladesh are armed with C-801 surface-launched subsonic anti-ship cruise missiles and HQ-7 short-range air defense missiles.

Type 053H frigates

This is not the first time when Bangladesh buys warships that served with the Chinese Navy. In 2013, the Bangladeshi Navy bought two Type 053H2G frigates.

A contract had been signed that will see China deliver 23 units of Hongdu K-8W intermediate training jets to the Bangladesh Air Guard (BAG). The deal was sealed at the Bangladesh Air Guard’s Headquarter in Dhaka. Bangladesh’s newly appointed Air Guard chief was present at the signing ceremony along with China’s ambassador in Bangladesh. BAF did not disclose the total amount of the deal, but the Diplomat reported that it’s more than $200 million.

Meanwhile, reports appeared that the Pakistani Armed Forces will buy 236 SH-15 155 mm self-propelled howitzers from China. The contract worth $512 million was reportedly signed in June 2019. The deal includes training and maintenance services. Pakistan navy bought type 054A frigates and Type 039A submarines with the transfer of technology agreement between both nations. Pakistan Army also procured HQ-16A air defense systems from China. Pakistan is currently negotiating to buy J-10C and J-11B fighter jets from China.

At the Shaheen-9 air exercise, PAF Chief of Air Staff Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan flew an “air superiority sortie in a hi-tech Chinese fighter aircraft,” a statement issued by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said on December 23. The aircraft the Air Chief flew in was not identified, but what we know from images and videos released during the exercise is that the Chinese brought in J-11s and J-10s for the exercise. While both are touted as multi-role aircraft, the twin-engine J-11B is deployed for air-superiority capabilities while the single-engine J-10’s primary role is ground attack.
The modernized J-11B would hold an advantage over the JF-17, currently the leading aircraft in PAF inventory, due to its increased engine power, newly minted AESA radar and a larger option of missiles and bombs.

Around the time of the Shaheen-9 exercise, images began appearing in Chinese media of AESA radar equipped J-11B (G) having their nose cones painted in white (as opposed to black cones in earlier generation J-11Bs.

These developments sign the growing Chinese military-technical cooperation with Pakistan and Bangladesh. If this cooperation develops and expands even further, the close cooperation of Pakistan, Bangladesh and China could drastically change the balance of power in the region and undermine the positions of India.

According Swedish SIPRI, Pakistan is the largest arms importer of China, followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar.

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