The United States Secretary of Defence Dr. Mark T. Esper called Bangladesh’s Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Hasina on 11 September 2020 over telephone.
The US Secretary commended Bangladesh on its COVID-19 response as well as its good will missions of aid to neighbouring countries.
The two discussed matters of common interest including bilateral defence programmes, UN peacekeeping, regional security and most importantly the modernisation of the Bangladesh armed forces capabilities.
Both leaders agreed to build closer military ties in support of shared values and interests.
The United States is very keen to sell military hardware to Bangladesh in recent years. Every bilateral security meeting included offers to sell sophisticated military aircraft including attack helicopters and combat aircraft.
The Bangladesh government maintains it is willing to purchase US made defence equipment if it proves to be cost effective.
The Bangladesh Air Force was offered a choice of AH-1Z Cobra and the AH-64E Guardian Apache. It opted to purchase the AH-64E under a standing requirement for attack helicopters.
Boeing stated Bangladesh’s intent to purchase newly built AH-64E attack helicopters through a government to government mechanism.
The United States asked Bangladesh to sign some defence agreements before it can transfer sophisticated military equipment to the Bangladesh armed forces.
It may take two to four years for the acquisition of the AH-64E attack helicopters to be completed.
The Bangladesh Air Force had earlier requested C-130J tactical transport aircraft but those were unavailable. It led to the purchase of refurbished ex-Royal Air Force C-130J (C4) aircraft.
The air force is still seeking additional C-130J or C-130J-30 airframes from the US or UK to expand its airlift capabilities. There were also plans to purchase refurbished C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft to support Bangladesh’s Special Forces and UN Peacekeeping operations.
It may be mentioned the United States has also offered F-16 single-engine fighter aircraft and F/A-18 maritime strike aircraft to help meet the Bangladesh Air Force requirements.
The Bangladesh Air Force will make a decision on these offers after the initial MRCA contract is concluded.
The Bangladesh Army and Navy are also due to purchase or receive unmanned aerial vehicle from the US for UN peacekeeping missions.
The US is assisting the Bangladesh Army with R&D related funding for UAVs at present.