The newly elected government of Bangladesh intends to invest heavily in the country's armed forces by embarking on a wide-ranging procurement programme for the army, navy and air force.
Planning Minister A K Khandekar, a former Bangladeshi air force chief, told parliament on 23 February that funds from this fiscal year and the next through to June 2010 would be used to procure helicopters, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, sniper rifles, night vision equipment and communication systems, as well as other requirements.
"An international tender has already been floated to purchase choppers and aircraft to strengthen maritime patrols and also to turn the navy into a three-dimensional force," he announced.
Khandekar added that an initial USD18 million purchase of anti-ship missiles for the navy was close to being finalised.
Three ageing frigates will be replaced with new ships, he said, adding that work is also underway to fit the navy's most advanced ship - the modified Korean Ulsan-class frigate BNS Khalid Bin Walid , which was recommissioned in mid-2007 - with an anti-aircraft missile capability.
Other projects announced by Khandekar included the provision of simulators to 27 army training facilities.
The country's Ministry of Defence and its High Commission in London were unable to elaborate on the minister's statement.
Image: Bangladesh's most advanced military vessel, BNS Khalid Bin Walid, could be joined by three new frigates under ambitious procurement plans (Daewoo)