Bangladesh Air Force
  • বাংলাদেশ বিমান বাহিনী
  • Bānlādēśa bimāna bāhinī
Bangladesh Air Force emblem.svg
Crest of Bangladesh Air Force
Founded28 September 1971; 51 years ago (1971-09-28)
Country Bangladesh
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size17,390 active duty (2017)[1][2]
3,686 civilians[1][2]
166 aircraft[3][4]
Part ofBangladesh Armed Forces
HeadquartersDhaka Cantonment
PatronThe President of Bangladesh
Motto(s)বাংলার আকাশ রাখিব মুক্ত
Banglar Aakash Rakhibo Mukto
"Free shall we keep the sky of Bangladesh"[5]
Colours
  • Service uniform: Deep Sky Blue, Prussian Blue
      
  • Combat uniform: Deep Sky Blue, Prussian Blue, Black, White
        
Mascot(s)Flying Eagle
Anniversaries28 September (Air Force Day)
21 November (Armed Forces Day)
Engagements
Websitebaf.mil.bd
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Abdul Hamid[6]
Chief of Air StaffAir Chief Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan[7]
Insignia
Ensign
Air Force Ensign of Bangladesh.svg
Roundel
Roundel of Bangladesh.svg
Fin flash
Flag of Bangladesh.svg
Aircraft flown
FighterMiG-29, Chengdu F-7
HelicopterBell 212, Mil Mi-17, AW139
TrainerG-120TP, PT-6, AW119kx, Bell 206, Aero L-39, K-8W, Yak-130
TransportC130J, C-130, An-32, L-410

The Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ বিমান বাহিনী, romanizedBangladesh Biman Bahini) is the aerial warfare branch of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. The Air Force is primarily responsible for air defence of Bangladesh's sovereign territory as well as providing air support to the Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Navy. Furthermore, the BAF has a territorial role in providing tactical and strategic air transport and logistics capability for the country.

Since its establishment on 28 September 1971, the Air Force has been involved in various combat and humanitarian operations, from the Bangladesh Liberation War in which it was born, to supporting international efforts including United Nations peacekeeping missions. Operation Kilo Flight was a famous operation conducted by the Bangladesh Air Force during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

History

Foundation

A BAF F-86 Sabre in the BAF Museum
A BAF F-86 Sabre in the BAF Museum

The Bangladesh Air Force was officially formed on 28 September 1971 consisting of the revolting Bengali officers and airmen of the Pakistan Air Force at Dimapur of Nagaland, India[8] and it was launched formally by flying three repaired vintage aircraft on 8 October 1971.[9] BAF's initial personnel were around a 1000 Bengali members of the Pakistan Air Force who were stationed in East Pakistan at the outbreak of the war and who deserted to the Bangladeshi side.[9] At that time, the embryo of Bangladesh Air Force BAF was formed with less than a hundred officers and around 900 airmen and warrant officers. These numbers were gradually strengthened by the slow but steady defection from among the around 3000 Bengali officers and airmen stationed and grounded in West Pakistan. By the first week of December a total of 700 Bengali officers and airmen had defected from the Western border. A significant number of BAF personnel participated in the Ground Warfare roles in the Bangladesh War of Independence. During the independence war, initially, officers of the BAF attached to the then Bangladesh Government were Chief Representative to Chakulia Guerrilla Training Camp Squadron Leader M. Hamidullah Khan, Group Captain A. K. Khandekar, DCOS Army(Liaison) later Sub-Sector Commander and as Commander - Sector 11, Flight Lieutenant Liaqat as Battalion Adjutant, Flying Officer Rouf, Flying Officer Ashraf and Flight Sergeant Shafiqullah as company commanders. Squadron Leader Sadruddin Hossain, Squadron Leader Wahidur Rahim, Squadron Leader Nurul Qader, Squadron Leader Shamsur Rahman and Squadron Leader Ataur Rahman as sub sector company commanders. Squadron Leader Khademul Bashar participated in the war as Commander-Sector 6.[10]

Indian civilian authorities and the IAF donated 1 DC-3 Dakota (gifted by the Maharaja of Jodhpor), 1 Twin Otter plane, and 1 Alouette III helicopter for the newborn Bangladesh Air Force.[11][8] The Bengali rank and file fixed up the World War II vintage runway at Dimapur, then began rigging the aircraft for combat duty. The Dakota was modified to carry 500 pound bombs, but for technical reasons it was only used to ferry Bangladesh government personnel. The Alouette III helicopter was rigged to fire 14 rockets from pylons attached to its side and had .303 Browning machine guns installed, in addition to having 1-inch (25 mm) steel plate welded to its floor for extra protection. The Twin Otter boasted 7 rockets under each of its wings and could deliver ten 25 pound bombs, which were rolled out of the aircraft by hand through a makeshift door. This tiny force was dubbed Kilo Flight, the first fighting formation of the nascent Bangladesh Air force. Squadron Leader Sultan Mahmud was appointed as the commander of the 'Kilo Flight'.[12][13]

Bangladesh Air Force first went in action on 3 December 1971 and attacked the Chattogram-based Oil tank depot and oil tank depot was totally destroyed by that air attack. The Air attack was conducted by Capt. Akram Ahmed.[14] The second Bangladesh Air Force attack was on 6 December 1971 at Moulvibazar Pakistani Army barracks under the command of Squadron Leader Sultan Mahmud, where Captain Shahabuddin Ahmed was co-pilot.[14]

After the surrender of Pakistan, all personnel reported to Bangladesh Forces commander-in-chief, Col. M. A. G. Osmani. On 7 April 1972, the post of the chief of air staff went into effect by order of the President of Bangladesh. The combined command of Bangladesh Forces had been abolished with effect from 7 April 1972 and replaced by three separate commands for the three services with acting chiefs of staff. The Bangladesh air force gradually began to reoccupy the reform all the airbase structures throughout the country, HQ administrative buildings, fuel and weapons depots.[citation needed]

After independence

The Alouette III was the first helicopter used by the Air Force, providing close air support during the Bangladesh Liberation War
The Alouette III was the first helicopter used by the Air Force, providing close air support during the Bangladesh Liberation War

After independence, in November–December 1972 the BAF received a significant donation from the former USSR. Among the aircraft delivered were ten single-seat Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MFs, two twin-seat Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21UMs, and twelve Mil Mi-8 utility helicopters. Later China also supplied some equipment.[11]

Apart from the aircraft of Kilo Flight which were donated by India, most Pakistan Air Force aircraft grounded in Dhaka due to runway cratering by the Indian Air Force during the liberation war, were sabotaged before surrender. Of these, four Canadair Sabres were also returned to service by Bangladeshi ground technicians in 1972. The Pakistan Air Force prior to 1971 had many Bengali pilots, air traffic controllers, technicians and administrative officers and the general Bengali representation in the Pakistan Air Force was around 15% (and 18% in the officer corps) of the 25,000 odd manpower of the Pakistan Air Force in 1971, which although lower than their share in the population (50%) was much higher than the 6% numbers in the Army. Many of them distinguished themselves during the Bangladesh Liberation War, they provided the nascent Bangladesh Air Force with a good number of trained personnel. It had grown with the repatriation of the around 2000 Air Force personnel from Pakistan in 1973 after the Simla Agreement.[9] In 1977 some personnel of Bangladesh Air Force staged a mutiny.[15]

Defence co-operation improved with Pakistan considerably under the military regimes of Ziaur Rahman and Hossain Mohammad Ershad in Bangladesh, which had grown more distant from its war ally, India. Common concerns over India's regional power have influenced strategic co-operation leading to a gift of several squadrons of refurbished Shenyang F-6 fighter aircraft from Pakistan to the Bangladesh Air Force in the late 1980s.[11] Bangladesh bought 8 Mig-29 from Russia in 1999 under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.[16] Bangladesh Air Force Academy (BAFA) received National colours in 2003 by the then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The Recruits' Training School (RTS) has been awarded with BAF Colours by ex-Chief of Air Staff (AVM Fakhrul Azam) in 2004. In 2017 Bangladesh Air Force was awarded the Independence Day Award.[17]

Covid-19 pandemic operations

Bangladesh Air Force was very active during COVID-19 pandemic . BAF provided emergency Medivac for many critical COVID-19 patients by their helicopters. BAF also evacuated immigrants, migrants workers and airlifted tons of relief materials for home and abroad by their C-130B and C-130J cargo aircraft.[18][19]

Forces Goal 2030

Main article: Forces Goal 2030 § Air Force

The Bangladesh Air Force has an ambitious modernisation plan to be implemented in upcoming years under Forces Goal 2030. As per the goal, air force is to be a strong deterrent force to well protect the sky of Bangladesh. Plans are made to strengthen both air power and land based air defence capabilities. Since the formulation of the forces goal 2030, the BAF has developed in many folds.[citation needed]

The Air Force has set up an advanced training unit named 105 Advance Jet Training Unit which is a dedicated fighter pilot training unit of BAF. The unit consists of three training squadrons which will provide advanced training to the pilots selected for operating the fighter jets.[20]

Since 2010, BAF has taken the delivery of sixteen Chengdu F-7BGI fighter aircraft, sixteen Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced jet trainers, two C-130J transport aircraft,[21] nine K-8W jet trainer aircraft, three Let L-410 Turbolet transport trainer aircraft[22] and twenty three PT-6 basic trainers.[23] Process is going on for the procurement of sixteen multirole combat aircraft.[24]

A Yakovlev Yak-130 on final approach
A Yakovlev Yak-130 on final approach

BAF has also taken the delivery of 21 Mi-171Sh combat transport helicopters, four AgustaWestland AW139 maritime SAR helicopters and two AW 119KX training helicopters since 2010. Procurement process of eight attack helicopters is going on.[24]

BAF earned the Surface to Air Missile capability by introducing FM-90 short range air defence missile in 2011.[25][unreliable source?] Till date, BAF Has taken the delivery of two regiments of FM-90 systems. Bangladesh air force received an Italian origin long range Selex RAT-31DL air defence radar in 2019.[26]

Bangladesh has signed a government to government contract with the United Kingdom for the supply of two off-the-shelf C-130J aircraft currently in service with the Royal Air Force.[27] In June 2019, another contract was signed for the procurement of additional three off-the-shelf C-130J aircraft from UK.[28] As of September 2020, three of the aircraft have been delivered.[29]

On 20 June 2018, the Bangladesh Air Force signed a contract with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) for the procurement of seven K-8 jet training aircraft.[30][31] On 15 October 2020 BAF received those seven procured K-8 jet training aircraft.[32]

UN mission deployment

More than 600+ BAF personnel, including officers and airmen, 10 BAF helicopters and are currently deployed to various UN Missions. Another C-130 transport aircraft is providing support to UN Mission in Africa. With the deployment of C-130 aircraft and its personnel, Bangladesh became the largest troops contributing country in UN peacekeeping missions.[citation needed]

Women in Bangladesh Air Force

Female helicopter pilots of the Bangladesh Air Force, serving with MONUSCO
Female helicopter pilots of the Bangladesh Air Force, serving with MONUSCO

On 25 November 2020, 64 female recruits completed airmens recruit training in Recruits Training School, Shamshernagar; this was the first time that the air force took females as airwomen.[33] As officers, women can join since the early 2000s but women were not allowed to become pilots till 2014, in 2014 two females received pilots training. Now female pilots of BAF have flown Mi-17s, Bell-206s, L-410s and recently C-130Js.[34]

List of the Chiefs of Air Staff

Main article: Chief of Air Staff (Bangladesh)

Organisation

According to the Constitution of Bangladesh, President of Bangladesh act as the civilian commander-in-chief, and Chief of Air Staff (COAS), by statute a four-star air officer (air chief marshal), commands the Air Force.[35][failed verification] The Bangladesh Air Force is currently commanded by Air Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan.[7] The Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) has its headquarters at Dhaka Cantonment. HQ has 4 branches, Operations & Training (Ops. & Trng.), Administration (Admin.), Maintenance (Mte.) and Plannings (Plans).[36] Each branch is headed by officers who are considered as principal staff officer (PSO) and known as assistant chief of air staff, e.g. ACAS (Ops & Trng). Under each PSO there are various directorates headed by directors of air commodore rank. Under each director there are deputy directors (DD) headed by group captain and staff officers (SO) with the rank of wing commander and below.[citation needed]

Senior commanders

Main article: List of serving air marshals of the Bangladesh Air Force

Shoulder Appointment Rank & Name Star Plate
British RAF OF-9.svg
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Shaikh Abdul Hannan,[7] GD(P)
BAF Air Chief Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) Air Vice Marshal MD Shafiqul Alam, BBP, OSP, BSP, ndu, afwc, psc, GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Administration) Air Vice Marshal M Sayed Hossain, OSP, BSP, GUP, ndc, psc, GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Planning) Air Vice Marshal AHM Fazlul Haque, BSP, ndu, afwc, psc, GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Maintenance) Air Vice Marshal Sade Uddin Ahmed, BUP, ndc, nswc, psc, Engineering
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Khademul Bashar (Dhaka) Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Kamrul Islam, GUP, nswc, afwc, psc, GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Bangabandhu (Dhaka) Air Vice Marshal Hasan Mahmood Khan, GUP, nswc,psc, GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Zahurul Haq (Chattogram) Air Vice Marshal Md. Zahidur Rahman, GUP, nswc, psc, GD(P) - No 12 GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Matiur Rahman (Jashore) Air Vice Marshal M A Awal Hossain, OSP, GUP, ndc, awc, psc, GD(P))
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-6.svg
Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Paharkanchanpur (Tangail) Air Commodore Qazi Mazharul Karim
BAF Air Commodore Star Plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Sheikh Hasina (Cox's Bazar) Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Shafkat Ali, BSP, nswc, afwc, psc, GD(P)
BAF Air Vice-Marshal Star Plate.svg


Branches (officer)

Branches of officers of Bangladesh Air Force are:

Trade groups (airmen)

Trade Groups of airmen are:[37]

  1. Aircraft Engineering
  2. Electrical and Instrument Engineering
  3. General Engineering
  4. Mechanical Transport Engineering
  5. Armament Engineering
  6. Radio Engineering
  7. Ground Signalling
  8. Radar Operator
  9. Air Traffic Controlling Assistant
  10. Education
  11. Cypher
  12. Meteorological Assistant
  13. Medical Assistant
  14. Secretarial Assistant (General Duties)
  15. Secretarial Assistant (Accounts)
  16. Logistics Assistant
  17. Ground Combatant (GC)
  18. Provost
  19. Administrative Assistant
  20. Musician
  21. Aircrew

Rank structure

Main article: Military ranks of Bangladesh

Officers

Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Bangladesh Air Force[38]
British RAF OF-9.svg
British RAF OF-8.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg
British RAF OF-6.svg
British RAF OF-5.svg
British RAF OF-4.svg
British RAF OF-3.svg
British RAF OF-2.svg
British RAF OF-1b.svg
British RAF OF-1a.svg
Bangladesh Air Force OF(D).svg
Air Chief Marshal Air Marshal Air Vice-Marshal Air Commodore Group Captain Wing Commander Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant Flying Officer Pilot Officer Officer cadet

Airmen

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Bangladesh Air Force[39]
08.BAF-CWO.svg
07.BAF-SWO.svg
06.BAF-WO.svg
04.BAF-SGT.svg

03.BAF-CPL.svg
02.BAF-LACM.svg
01.BAF-ACM1.svg
No insignia
Master warrant officer Senior warrant officer Warrant officer Sergeant Corporal Leading aircraftman Aircraftman 1 Aircraftman 2

Installations and bases

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Equipment

Aircraft

See also: List of active Bangladesh military aircraft & List of historic Bangladesh Air Force aircraft

Bangladesh Air Force MIG-29B and F-7s in formation
Bangladesh Air Force MIG-29B and F-7s in formation
A BAF AW139 Maritime search and rescue helicopter
A BAF AW139 Maritime search and rescue helicopter
BAF Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-29 Russia multirole 8[40]
Chengdu J-7 China fighter 36[40] license variant of the MiG-21
Transport
L-410 Turbolet Czech Republic transport 3[3] also provides multi-engine training[41]
Antonov An-32 Ukraine transport 3[40]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130B 4[40]
C-130J Super Hercules United States tactical airlifter C-130J-30 5 obtained from the RAF[42]
Helicopters
Bell 212 United States utility 14[40]
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility / transport Mi-17/171ish 35[40]
AgustaWestland AW139 Italy SAR / utility 4[40]
Trainer Aircraft
Bell 206 United States rotorcraft trainer 206L 6[40]
Aero L-39 Czech Republic primary trainer 7[40]
Grob G 115 Germany basic trainer G-115BD 3 on order[43]
Grob G 120TP Germany basic trainer 12 12 on order[44] [40]
Hongdu JL-8 China / Pakistan jet trainer K-8W 14[40]
Chengdu F-7 China conversion trainer FT-7 11[40] license variant of the MiG-21
Yakovlev Yak-130 Russia LIFT 14[40]
AgustaWestland AW119 Italy rotorcraft trainer 2[40]
UAV
Selex ES Falco Italy reconnaissance used for UN peacekeeping missions.[45]

Ordnance

Name Origin Type Notes
Air-to-air missile
K-13 Russia IR guided missile 75 units received[26]
R-73 Russia IR guided missile 100 units received[26]
PL-7 China IR guided missile 100 units received[26]
PL-9 China IR guided missile 14 units received[26]
R-27 Ukraine BVR 28 units received[26]
Aerial bomb
Mark 81 United States general-purpose 200 units received[46]
Air-launched rocket
S-24 Russia air-launched rocket 240 mm rocket for MIG-29[47]
S-8[48] Russia air-launched rocket application for the Mil mi-17 helicopter
Anti-surface
Kh-31A Soviet Union anti-ship missile tender released by DGDP for Kh-31A[49]
Bangladesh Air Force FM-90 SAM
Bangladesh Air Force FM-90 SAM

Air Defense

Name Origin Type Notes
SAM
FM-90 China SAM 36 batteries received[50]
FN-6 China MANPADS 50[50]
QW-2 Vanguard 2 China MANPADS 50[50]

Radars

Name Origin Type Notes
Selex RAT-31DL Italy AESA Air Search Radar 2 installations[51]
1L-117 [1] Russia Air Search Radar 2 installations[51]
AN/TPS-43 United States 3D Air Search Radar 4 installations[51]
JH-16[52] China Air Search Radar
JY-11B [2][52] China 3D Air Search Radar
KRONOS LAND [3] Italy AESA Air Search Radar 1 installation[51][53][54]
YLC-6[55][52] China Air Search Radar
Plessey AR15 [4][52] United Kingdom Air Search Radar
RL-64I [5][52] Czech Republic S-Band Airport Surveillance Radar(ASR)
RP-5GI [6][52] Czech Republic Precision Approach Radar(PAR)

Future modernisation plans

The BAF has an ongoing modernisation programme under Forces Goal 2030. To perform its increasing duties and responsibilities, the air force is being divided into two separate commands: Southern air command and Northern air command. A new air base is being set up under southern command at Barishal with an emphasis on maritime security.[23] Another air base is under construction at Sylhet.[56]

On 29 October 2019, Italian company Leonardo announced that it has secured a contract to supply Kronos Land 3D AESA radar systems to the Bangladesh Air Force to provide air surveillance and detect and track targets in tactical environments. The number of radars ordered were not disclosed.[57]

In the third Bangladesh-UK strategic dialogue held in May 2019, the two countries desired to further strengthen the defence ties between them. The United Kingdom expressed its readiness to support Bangladesh with procurement of high calibre multi-role combat aircraft alongside other modernisation programmes.[58]

In October 2019, US officials said Bangladesh had proposed to the United States to purchase advanced military equipment including multi-role combat fighters, attack helicopters and surface-to-air missile systems.[59] They offered Bangladesh Air Force two types of attack helicopters and the BAF opted for the AH-64 Apache helicopters.[59] In January 2020, Boeing confirmed that the AH-64E attack helicopter has been down-selected by the BAF after a competitive bidding process.[60] Any purchase of AH-64 Apache helicopters depends on Bangladesh and the United States signing Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) agreements. However, in late December 2021, it was reported that Bangladesh is now finalizing a government-to-government (G2G) deal with Russia to buy 8 Mi-28NEs with necessary equipment, along with operation and maintenance training.[61] As of September 2022, the Bangladesh government has not signed the deal yet.

In January 2020, the minister responsible for defence affairs in the parliament, Mr. Anisul Huq told the parliament that process is going on to procure 16 multirole combat aircraft, eight attack helicopters, three VVIP helicopters, two air defence radar units, 24 primary trainer aircraft, two light aircraft, one K-8W simulator, four MRAP vehicles, one AW-119 simulator, 2 counter drone surveillance radar system and one mobile ATC tower and life extension and upgrade of Mig-29 aircraft.[24]

In 2021, Bangladesh Air Force requested Bangladesh Government to earmark around 25,200-crores taka (2.5 billion euro) for 16 western-origin multirole fighter jet.[62] In order to sign the agreement and for the first installment council, Bangladesh Air Force has requested for allocation of 6,300-crores taka from the 2021-22 financial year.[62] In 2021, Eurofighter World Magazine stated Bangladesh as a potential customer for the Eurofighter Typhoon.[63] France also offered the Dassault Rafale to the Bangladesh Air Force.[64] Plans and procedures for the procurement of 16 western-origin multirole fighter jet were established after cancellation of the older tender for 8 to 12 Russian made MRCA.[65] As of September 2022, the Bangladesh government has not signed any deal for the multirole fighter jets.

In June 2021, Bangladesh Air Force revealed the order of 24 Grob G 120TP trainer aircraft. According to Masihuzzaman Serniabat, previous COAS, Bangladesh Air Force has ordered 24 trainer aircraft from Grob.[66] Under the deal, Grob Aircraft will also install a composite material (fiberglass reinforced plastic and carbon fibre composites) repair workshop and a propeller repair workshop in Bangladesh.[66]

Accidents

See also

References

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