The Bangladesh government is considering purchasing a Russian-made new generation surveillance satellite that will assist the armed forces and other important government departments to monitor ground activities from space with high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) or optical payloads.
Through this new satellite, Bangladesh’s armed forces will be capable of focusing on targets with a resolution of 1 metre while survey areas with a maximum length of 4,000 km.
The Bangladesh government will sign a G2G agreement with Russia to launch the second satellite christened the Bangabandhu-2 by 2023 with a cost of BDT 3,707 crore.
The project is currently awaiting approval from the Planning Commission before being sent to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) to commence negotiation with the Russian counterpart.
Currently, Bangladeshi security services are unable to obtain specific satellite imagery from commercial sources as those sensitive images may not be available. Once Bangabandhu-2 is launched the military will improve its reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities manifold.
Already the Bangabandhu-1 satellite purchased from Thales-Alenia Space at a cost of BDT 2,902 crore provides communication capabilities link to the Bangladesh military through reserved transponders.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC (PwC) presented 15 optical and 1 SAR payload capable satellites to the Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL). Unlike the Bangabandhu-1, the new satellite is not being implemented for commercial purposes, but rather national security in mind.
In 2019, Bangladesh and Russia signed a bilateral scientific and technical cooperation agreement in which it was expressed that Russia would cooperate in launching Bangladesh’s second satellite.
Due to the lengthy process of negotiations with Russia, the Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) is also considering other partners from Western Europe too.
Russia-Bangladesh Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation commission may meet later this year to discuss the satellite issue later this year.
Bangladesh’s defence cooperation with Russia cooled after the latter provided diplomatic cover to Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis. Observers believe this is an opportunity for Russia to redeem itself riding on the success of the $12.65 billion Roopur Nuclear Powerplant (RNPP) project, which is scheduled to go online in 2023-24.
Bangladesh’s security forces continue to purchase mostly Russian-made Mi-171 helicopters and spare parts.