There are reports that Japan has recently become interested in selling military hardware to Bangladesh. This can be connected with a wider plan by the US, Japan, and Indian alliance to recruit Bangladesh into their alliance, which is largely anti-Chinese in nature.
Historically Japan has been an unflinching development partner of Bangladesh contributing to much of Bangladesh’s infrastructural development.
Now Japan wishes to go one step further by turning the relationship into a strategic one with military value.
We looked into what Japan has to offer in terms of defence hardware. While they produce many types of equipment, most of them are not cost-effective and none of them are exported. You may find French or British defence hardware in the inventories of many countries, but not from Japan.
We are uncertain about how the after-sales service will be from Japan. We hope it is far better than that of South Korea, which has not been able to export major defence hardware to Bangladesh excluding some warships largely due to this reason.
Bangladesh should focus on acquiring sophisticated maritime and aerial surveillance systems from Japan for starters.
The Bangladesh Navy and Air Force can look into purchasing the Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft. This aircraft is Japan’s successor to the P-3 Orion fleet and is powered by four turbofan engines. The P-1 has a maximum speed of 996 km/h and a range of 8,000 km. Its combat radius is 2,500 km and the service ceiling is 13,520 m.
The P-1 has 8 hardpoints that enable it to carry up to 9,000 kg of ordnance on its wings and internal bomb bays. Missiles such as the AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-65 Maverick, mines, depth charges, torpedoes, and sonobuoys can be carried also.
The Japanese P-1 is equipped with a Toshiba AESA radar, NEC multi-static sound navigation system, Shinko Electric advanced combat direction system for ASW, Mitsubishi supplied CMD, RWR, MWS, and ESM suite.
Currently, over 30 airframes of the P-1 are operational with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in two squadrons. The P-1 can be compared to the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4, Boeing P-8 Poseidon, Ilyushin Il-38, and Lockheed P-3 Orion.
A joint squadron of the Bangladesh Air Force and Navy can operate the P-1 maritime patrol aircraft from BNS Sher-e-Bangla naval base at Barishal. The aircraft would allow Bangladesh an effective capability to police the Bay of Bengal and assure delivery of adequate firepower during wartime. It would most importantly enable the Bangladesh Navy to respond to the growing threat of submarines in the region.
The Bangladesh government can raise the matter with its Japanese counterparts and acquire the aircraft through a bilateral agreement that may symbolise Japan’s willingness to support the security of Bangladesh in the context of maintaining peace in the Bay of Bengal.
Japan has already provided at least 24 small patrol craft to the Bangladesh Coast Guard in recent times to ensure maritime security.