DHAKA, Bangladesh, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Bangladesh said it is on target to buy military equipment including 80 armored vehicles and two helicopters as part of its 10-year defense transformation plan.
Planning Minister retired Air Vice Marshal A.K. Khandker made the announcement to parliament in Dhaka, saying orders will be placed for some equipment in the current fiscal year.
The shopping list includes seven tanks and one armored recovery vehicle for the army and maritime patrol craft.
The helicopters and 80 armored vehicles, as well as five armored recovery vehicles and five armored ambulances are destined for Bangladeshi troops on U.N. peacekeeping missions, The Hindu newspaper, in New Delhi, reported.
"An international tender has already been floated to purchase choppers and aircraft to strengthen maritime patrol and also to turn the navy into a three-dimensional force," Khandker said.
However, The Hindu report gave no details of costs or time frames.
The country will also beef up its manufacturing of bullets and other small-caliber munitions.
"The government has approved in principle and allocated necessary funds to double the capacity of Bangladesh Ordnance Factory to produce ammunition for small arms," Khandker said in reply to a written question by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
He said that construction of five patrol craft at Khulna shipyard was under way. The government is considering building or purchasing two larger patrol craft, a hydro graphic survey vessel and one oil tanker at a national or a foreign shipyard.
The government will also be looking to buy one or two old frigates from other countries. The purchases of an offshore patrol vessel from the British navy and a large patrol craft are progressing, he added.
The army has various foreign-made APCs, including around 1,080 Russian BTR-80 and BTR-70 -- of which more than 100 are used on U.N. missions -- 60 Egyptian-made Fahd 28, and several Turkish and Romanian 6X6 RN-94 APCs for ambulance use.
Last February the newly elected government announced the ambitious procurement plan, including anti-tank and anti-ship missile systems, aircraft for maritime patrol, frigates, tanks and helicopters. A parliamentary committee agreed in principal the 10-year plan in June.
The ship BNS Osman is going to be equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile from China, analysts said. The BNS Bangabandhu is the most modern ship of the Bangladeshi navy and will be similarly equipped.
The BNS Bangabandhu was built in 1999 by Daewoo of South Korea for $100 million as a multi-purpose anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine frigate derived from the fleet of Ulsan class ships that are in service with the South Korean navy. It was fitted with a Thales command-and-control suite comprising a TACTICOS combat system, DA-08 surveillance radar, a Variant surface surveillance radar, a Mirador electro-optical tracking and fire control system and a LIROD Mk2 fire control radar.
The ship was decommissioned and put in reserve in 2002 because of essential warranty work. It was recommissioned in July 2007 for active service as BNS Khalid Bin Walid. It was renamed in 2009 as BNS Bangabandhu.
The navy is in the process of replacing its three former British navy frigates BNS Abu Bakar, BNS Ali Haider and BNS Umar Farooq with modern frigates in next couple of years. It hopes to be operating submarines by 2019.