Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bangladesh purchases 44 MBT-2000 tanks from China



For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, the government is set to buy 44 brand new modern MBT-2000 tanks and 3 armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) for the army, as a part of its planned modernisation.

The government will also buy two additional helicopters for the army to ensure necessary logistical support for the UN peacekeeping activities.

The tanks and ARVs will be bought from China, and the helicopters from France through government-to-government deals, which were recently signed. According to the deals, the cost of the tanks will be around Tk 1,201 crore, and the helicopters Tk 174 crore. Besides, a process is on to buy 18 brand new cannons.

"The tanks will be bought through a government to government deal ensuring maximum transparency," Master General of Ordnance (MGO) of Bangladesh Army Maj Gen Abdul Matin told The Daily Star yesterday.

"The purchase is being done as a part of modernisation of the Bangladesh Army," he said adding that the tanks will be delivered in phases over a span of 27 months. In the first phase 24 tanks will come within 20 months, and the rest will come in the second phase over the next 7 months.

The payment for the purchase will be made in phases over the next eight years, said the major general adding that the Chinese government will provide training to technicians of Bangladesh Army in China and in Bangladesh for a good period of time so that the tanks and ARVs could be maintained properly. The training will be free of charge, he said.

Maj Gen (retd) Amin Ahmed Chowdhury told The Daily Star that through this purchase, the military of the country will definitely get a boost.

The government in 2003 took initiatives to buy tanks for the army, but that initiative did not see the light of day due to budgetary limitations.

The government was supposed to buy seven tanks last year and seven more this year. As only a Chinese company took part in the tender, the government cancelled it, and re-invited tender in which four companies from China, Russia, Ukraine, and Pakistan participated. Chinese company Norinco was selected as the lowest bidder.

Later the army requested the government to buy 44 tanks instead of 14.

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