In an industry first we spoke with a Bangladeshi defence supply firm representative working closely with the DGDP about the prospects of bringing the Saab JAS-39 Gripen for the Bangladesh Air Force.
#DEFSECA: Thanks for taking your time to answer some of our queries in relation to the purchase of Swedish made Jas-39 fighter aircraft from Sweden.
#DGDP Agent: Its a pleasure.
#DEFSECA: As you know the BAF must replace its aged F-7 line up with a new single engine (preferably) fighter aircraft that can serve as the work horse in to the future. On paper the Saab Gripen is the best option but why hasn’t it materialised in to something tangible?
#DGDP Agent: The Saab Gripen was focus of our efforts earlier on in 2016. We made at least three attempts at different intervals to gain the aircraft for the Bangladesh Air Force. Each time we were rebuffed, not because of our company — but as a result of their (Saab) policy towards Bangladesh. They were not keen to have Bangladesh Air Force as an operator of the aircraft at that time for branding reasons.
#DEFSECA: But the BAF Chief had recently visited Sweden upon invitation from their COAS. Has anything changed under ACM Serniabat’s auspices?
#DGDP Agent: Our respected COAS Serbiabat sir, attended the ‘International Forum for the Military Simulation, Training & Education Community (ITEC) 2019’ in Stockholm during mid-May 2019. He was there mainly for the AEW&CS and some exhibition programs.
#DEFSECA: Can the BAF obtain the Saab Gripen in the near future?
#DGDP Agent: I cannot project the future much in advance however the Bangladesh Air Force is ready to consider all options equally. Saab Gripen is a great aircraft, and a force multiplier for the Bangladesh Air Force. Purchasing or even leasing them from Sweden can be done because we believe such transactions are mutually beneficial for Bangladesh and Sweden.
#DEFSECA: Theoretically how many squadrons of single engine fighters can the BAF obtain by 2030?
DS: The Bangladesh Air Force does not have any problems in absorbing single engine fighters. Due to a number of technical aspects the air force can put in to service two squadrons within the time frame along with a single squadron of twin engine fighters (MRCA). They can absorb three more additional fighter squadrons beyond 2030-2040 period when infrastructure and finances permit.
#DEFSECA: Thanks for your time. This informal interview will help clear a lot of mystery in the minds of our readers in relation to the Gripen enigma.
DS: You are welcome #DEFSECA.