Officials from Bangladesh and Russia recently held a meeting at the premises of Russia’s Ministry of Defence headquarters on 24 June 2021 to resume military cooperation after a brief hiatus as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the important senior level meeting the Bangladesh Air Force has disclosed a requirement for Kh-31A anti-ship missiles arming its upgraded MiG-29BM multi-role fighter aircraft.
This capability addition assures the Bangladesh Air Force achieves a key milestone in terms of providing support to the Bangladesh Navy operations during times of war beyond coastal peripheries. It shows Dhaka is increasingly protective of its territorial integrity, particularly its maritime links with the international community and that there is a strong desire to protect the offshore resources in the Bay of Bengal against external threats.
What are the capabilities of the Kh-31A anti-ship missiles?
The medium range Kh-31A anti-ship missile is equipped with an active radar seeker, derived from the Kh-31P supersonic anti-radiation missile, which is designed to penetrate layered defence networks.
The missile employs mid-course guidance and terminal homing. It is equipped with the ARGSN-31 jam-resistant active radar guidance system. It is designed to engage ships displacing up to 4,500 tons using a single shot. The minimum firing range of the Kh-31A is 7.5 km and maximum firing range is 70 km. It has a maximum speed of 1,000 m/s and can be launched from the MiG-29BM from 600 to 1,250 km/h. The operational altitude envelope of this anti-ship missile is 100-15,000 m and hit probability is 80%.
With the purchase of the Kh-31A anti-ship missile, the Bangladesh Air Force will be capable of defending Bangladesh’s maritime territories by introducing yet another strike option for Bangladesh military commanders. Procurement of this type of armament clearly illustrates that Bangladesh is seeking a deterrence capability against larger and better equipped military forces of neighbouring countries. This addition will further complicate their abilities to operate at whim in Bangladesh’s territory. It is a procurement that is very much in line with procurements of higher calibre equipment such as submarines, frigates and long range anti-ship missiles for the Bangladesh Navy.
Russia is certainly not out of the picture as far as Bangladesh’s defence apparatus is concerned. It will remain relevant in the days ahead as long as Bangladesh maintains its fleet of MiG-29BM, Yak-130 and Mi-171 military aircraft and helicopters.