The French government is processing licences for the sale of military hardware including naval equipment and air traffic management system worth nearly $3.2 billion.
French Air Force Chief General Philippe Lavigne is currently on a 3-day official visit to Bangladesh with an entourage of four members from 8 February. The French are actively touting the Rafale fighter aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force. They hope to establish strong ties with the Bangladesh Air Force through transfer of sophisticated military technologies to the Bangladesh Armed Forces.
Reputed French newspaper La Tribune reported on 7 February 2020 that the Bangladesh government (Ministry of Defence) was interested in the Dassault Aviation Rafale multi-role combat aircraft. It however conceded that the Rafale would not get very far facing stiff competition from the United States, China and Russia. It however interestingly left out its main competitor, the Eurofighter Typhoon which is likely to join the Bangladesh Air Force’s fleet in the near future. In this regard the Bangladesh Air Force established an office in the United Kingdom to facilitate the Eurofighter programme with the manufacturer, MRO providers and the UK Ministry of Defence.
La Tribune also mentioned about Boeing’s ongoing sale of AH-64E Guardian Apache attack helicopters to the Bangladesh Air Force, signifying its enhanced image abroad.
Up until 2018 French defence and aerospace equipment manufacturers had limited success with Bangladesh armed forces including sale of heavy mortar systems, military trucks and anti-ship missile systems through MBDA.
But by the end of 2018 the French manufacturers lined up 42 export licences for the Bangladesh armed armed forces and civil aviation authority worth $3.2 billion including $2.9 billion of naval equipment).
French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique (formerly STX France) has presented the New Generation Floreal Frigate (NG2F) based on the robust and cost effective Floreal class patrol frigates.
The NG2F frigate has a length of 101 m and a breadth of 15.5 m with a maximum displacement of 3,500 tonnes. The warship has a maximum speed of 25 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 15 knots. It has a complement of 80 personnel and can accommodate another 45 others.
Weapons system includes two twin SSM launchers, however the Bangladesh Navy is likely to use two quadruple launchers instead. In addition air defence is provided by two twin SAM launchers, though the Bangladesh Navy may opt for more advanced Aster-15 or CAMM SAM systems instead of MANPADS type launchers.
There are also two triple lightweight 324mm torpedo launchers and gun systems consisting of 1 76mm super rapid gun with a stealth cupola, a 35mm gun, a 25 mm gun and 4 .50 calibre heavy machine guns. There are also two multiple decoy launchers integrated with the ships self-defence systems.
A 10 ton class helicopter can be accommodated aboard the ships hanger and deck as well as two 7m RHIBs.
Electronic equipment consists of a 3D radar with integrated IFF in S band and X band frequencies. A hull mounted sonar and integrated fire control system consisting of up to 10 consoles are installed.
The NG2F is also equipped with a state of the art electronic warfare system, modern navigation and communication systems.
The Bangladesh Navy has a requirement for six indigenously built guided missile frigates to be built at the Chittagong Dry Dock Ltd (CDDL) with a budget of $400 million for each frigate. Dozens of shipyards have shown interest in a joint venture with the Bangladesh Navy owned CDDL to construct the ships in the country including Fincantieri of Italy and Damen Shipyards from the Netherlands. Two British shipyards have also presented their proposals to the Bangladesh Navy for the lucrative project competing against Chinese, Singaporean, Indian and South Korean shipyards.
Thales-Alenia Space launched Bangladesh’s first space satellite in May 2018 costing $248 million including establishing two earth stations. The company is now also prospecting for a second satellite with a military communications capability as one of the primary requirements. The French government has already offered to finance the entire project hoping to improve ties with Dhaka.