The Bangladesh Armed Forces participated at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) 2021 held earlier this year during 21-25 February.
The International Defence Exhibition & Conference, or IDEX, is a biennial arms and defence technology sales exhibition. The exhibition is the largest defence exhibition and conference in the Middle East and takes place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
There was a Bangladeshi military presence, which saw a Shadhinata class stealth guided missile corvette, BNS Prottoy (F112) representing the Bangladesh Navy flotilla at the NAVDEX (sister event).
Attending the UAE’s flagship events were several members of the Bangladesh Army including a Lieutenant General, who was seen at the Kalashnikov Group’s latest rifle, the AK-19 5.56x45mm (NATO standard calibre) assault rifle.
The AK-19 features a redesigned polymer L-shaped stock, a redesigned pistol grip and trigger guard, and a new rotary diopter rear sight. The AK-19 also features a birdcage-type flash suppressor that features slots for a quick detachable sound suppressor. The rifle has a weight of 3.35 kg (7.39 lb), a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 in), a full length of 935mm (36.8 in), a barrel twist rate of 178 mm (7.0 in), and a standard box magazine capacity of 30 rounds.
The Bangladesh Army is in fact in the market for a new standard issue assault rifle. Already a relatively large quantity of assault rifles have been ordered and deliveries are in the pipeline. In FY 2020-21 the Army will double the order from the previous contract to ensure its Special Forces are equipped with new generation assault rifles before other units. Previously the Army standardised both the KRISS Vector Gen II and Sig Sauer MPX submachine guns. However the former was issued to the members of the Army’s elite Para Commando Brigade’s Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).
The UAE visit of the Bangladesh Army delegation could be a significant clue towards how the Bangladesh Army is progressing in its weapons acquisition drive. It appears they prefer to purchase hybrid equipment such as AK-19, which is chambered to fire NATO standard ammunition while retaining the familiarity of the AK-47 and its analogues such as the Type 56 or BD-08, which are currently in widespread service with all corps of the Bangladesh Army.
The new assault rifles for the Para-Commando Brigade will greatly help to improve the force’s morale and image. Members of the Para-Commando Brigade’s CTU were highly praised for their successful operations since a series of terrorist attacks in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country in 2016.
Satisfied with the performance of the Special Forces elements the government issued them with a blank cheque for modernisation. Most of the funds are going in to acquisition of surveillance equipment, communications equipment and various types of light armaments.
The bump up is now yielding positive result for the Special Forces outfits such as the Para-Commando Brigade and the Airborne Para Infantry Brigade.