A lot of you may have dreams that Bangladeshi defence industries should produce fighter aircraft and other sophisticated platforms but to me those things cannot be realised because they require expertise, financial support and political will.
Even before the defence industry can take off there needs to be a separate State Minister for Defence Industries. A person who has the right experience and skill set to implement projects that are cost effective and meet requirements of the AFD and future export.
I really appreciate the model for development of the domestic defence industries by countries such as South Korea, Turkey and Pakistan. They never had any lofty goals but they developed their defence industries with genuine expectations and targets of where they want to be down the line.
- Create post for State Minister for Defence Industries by amending the existing constitution
- Allow for private investment in defence sector to invigorate the sector
- Ensure policy to support defence industry exports the same way shipbuilding, pharma, RMG is supported
- Establish 50:50 Public-Private companies in partnership with foreign defence giants
- Made in Bangladesh advantages should be awarded for products with at least 40% of the components of any products which are made by these companies
- The companies can be such:
- Bangladesh Aerospace Industries (BAI) – Light aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles
- Bangladesh Dynamics (BDY) – Guided missile components such as seekers, body, complete missile systems
- Bangladesh Avionics and Defence Electronics (BADE) – Communications equipment, radar, jammers, avionics
- Bangladesh Ordnance Factories (BOF) – Artillery systems, man-portable missiles, crew served weapons, all types of munitions, explosives, small arms, naval mines, aircraft cannons, naval gun systems, soldier systems, soldier accessories
- Bangladesh Precision Optics (BPO) – FLIR, guidance systems, thermal imagers, night vision goggles, targeting systems, rifle collimators, laser range finders
- Bangabandhu Aeronautical Centre (BAC) – Aircraft MRO, aircraft related R&D, upgrading aircraft
- Khulna Shipyard Ltd (KSY) – Large and medium sized surface warships, submarines, heavy engineering, overhauling
- Chittagong Shipyard (CSY) – Destroyers, frigates, submarines, overhauling
- Dockyard & Engineering Works (DEW) – Smaller surface warships and unmanned naval systems
- Bangladesh Diesel Plant (BDP) – Engines for trucks, marine engines, light aircraft engines (incl those for UAV)
- Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory (BMTF) – Heavy trucks, armoured vehicles, specialised automotive conversions
- Progati Industries (PGI) – Staff cars, buses, commercial vehicles, electrical vehicles
Moreover ensure all these industries become heavily export orientated through the office of a Defence Export Trading Company as the interface. The DETC being the nodal body can ensure marketing through tie up with major international brands. They can organise defence exhibitions in Bangladesh and also export to friendly countries. There are already pathways to export Bangladeshi defence products to Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Maldives, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Pakistan and so on.
There is no reason why Sheikh Hasina cannot implement my recommendations. She is capable of ensuring major projects during her tenure as PM.
Bangladesh has to become more self-sufficient. It will ensure a strong platform in which the country can stand on in the international arena. It will allow the country to gain a leverage during any defence equipment purchase negotiation with emphasis on transfer of technology to local defence industries on a profitable basis.
The establishment of aerospace and marine universities gives me great hope that my ideas can one day be implemented. I believe there are still thousands of people left in Bangladesh willing to work tirelessly for the success of my defence industrial plan. It is a path to gradual industrialisation of the country.