Although progress has been slow on Line of Credit extended in 2018, several types of equipment are under various stages of consideration

Marking some progress on the delayed implementation of the $500 million defence Line of Credit (LoC) extended by India to Bangladesh, Dhaka has recently shared a wish list of military platforms and systems that its armed forces would like to procure from India, according to official sources. This includes a diverse range of equipment, including a floating dock, and logistics ship and oil tanker for the Bangladesh Navy, among others.

“Bangladesh is modernising its military, inducting new weapons and improving infrastructure in line with its ‘Forces Goal 2030’. India has the capability to meet a significant part of these requirements, which will also boost defence cooperation between the two countries,” one official source said.

The LoC extended in 2018 is for utilisation by April 2029. Though progress has been slow, a number of types of equipment are under various stages of consideration, the source noted.

Talking of the wish list, the source said that the Bangladesh Army has approved procurement of three items, so far, under the LoC — five Bridge Layer Tanks (BLT-72) at a cost of approximately $10 million; seven portable steel bridges (Bailey) at a cost of around $2.2 million; and 11 Mine Protective Vehicles from the TATA Group at an approximate cost of $2.2 million.

Other items proposed to be procured by the Bangladesh Army are Mahindra XUV 500 off-road vehicles; door hard top vehicles from Mahindra at an approximate cost of $2.35 million; heavy recovery vehicles; armoured engineer reconnaissance vehicles; and bullet proof helmets. Other proposals include modernisation and extension of automobile assembling unit for a Bangladesh machine tools factory, which is a proposal from Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Private Limited; two types of explosives at a cost of over ₹4 crore; 21 types of raw materials at a cost of around ₹3 crore; and 10 types of tools at a cost of ₹6.6 crore.

The Bangladesh Navy has proposed the procurement of a logistics ship, floating dock, oil tanker, and an ocean-going tug, the source stated.

Defence cooperation and the implementation of the LoC will come up for discussed at the highest levels during the ongoing visit in India of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, sources said.

Stressing on India’s expanding indigenous defence industrial base, sources said India is keen to offer artillery guns, mortars, rockets and missiles, support vehicles, electronic and engineering equipment, radars, helicopters, military rakes, and ship building services.

In addition, Bangladesh can also be offered India’s expertise in sea and airport infrastructure development among others, a second source said.

There is also lot of scope for cooperation in high technology sectors in which India has expertise and is keen to offer it to our neighbours, the source said, and these include Information Technology and cyber space, satellite and space technology, maintenance and overhaul, development of local defence industry, and training. “Towards this, there can be increase in military exercises as well as more visits at the senior military level,” the source added.

Last month, the two countries held the fourth India-Bangladesh annual defence dialogue and tri-Service staff talks, during which the implementation of the LoC was reviewed by both sides and there was also significant focus on defence industrial cooperation and capability building.

In May 2018, Defence public sector undertaking, Garden Reach Ship Builders of Kolkata had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Khulna Shipyard Limited of Bangladesh to provide assistance and know-how in the design and construction of warships.

Bangladesh has purchased arms from China, including two conventional diesel electric submarines. China has emerged as one of the top arms suppliers globally, and especially for countries in India’s neighbourhood.

In a bid to counter this, India has of late significantly expanded its military diplomacy and assistance for capacity building and capability development for countries in the Indian Ocean Region.