There has been no dip in defence spending among India’s neighbours
Prasun K. Sengupta
At a time when India’s defence spending has reached its lowest levels since the early Sixties, exactly the opposite is the case in the country’s immediate neighbourhood. For instance, China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Company (CSOC) on February 12 this year launched the third C-13B guided-missile corvette (F-113) for the Bangladesh Navy at Wuchang Shipyard in Wuhan. This vessel sports the CETC-developed S-band SR-2410C active phased-array radar. The corvette displaces 1,330 tonnes, is 90 metres long and 11 metres wide. There is a helicopter deck at the stern, but no hangar. The corvette has a reported top cruising speed of 25 Knots. Two similar corvettes were earlier ordered from CSOC in October 2012.
BNS Shadhinota (F-111), the lead ship, was launched on 30 November 2014 at Wuhan. The first two corvettes, Shadhinota and Prottoy (F-112) were commissioned on 19 March 2016. Two more corvettes were ordered in July 2015 and are under construction now. Each corvette is armed with four C-802A anti-ship cruise missiles (two launchers with two missiles each); one FL-3000N surface to air missile launcher (containing eight missiles); one H/PJ-26 76mm main gun; and two H/PJ-17 30mm dual mode (auto/manual) remote controlled naval turret. On January 14, the handover ceremony of the last two Durjoy-class littoral patrol craft — BNS Durgam and BNS Nishan — was held at Bangladesh. The two 675-tonne vessels were jointly built by Wuhan Shipbuilding Industry and Khulna Shipyard and were commissioned on 8 November 2017.
The Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) received the first six of its 16 Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced trainers from Russia on 17 September 2015. Bangladesh had ordered the aircraft in January 2014 in a contract that was originally supposed to include 24 aircraft, but due to financial constraints, the order was reduced to 16. Since then, one Yak-130 crashed on July 11 last year at Lohagora in Chittagong with no casualties.
In June last year, Bangladesh ordered five Mi-171Sh helicopters, and eight Su-30SME heavy multi-role combat aircraft (H-MRCA), with an option to buy four more. Deliveries will begin by this year’s end. In July 2017, Bangladesh entered into a government-to-government deal with the United Kingdom to purchase two C-130JC5 tactical transport aircraft. Dhaka currently has four Lockheed C-130E Hercules and two Let L-410 Turbolet transport aircraft in its transport aircraft fleet.
In August last year, the Bangladesh Army finalised its plan to buy as many as 680 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV). The government-owned Directorate General of Defence Purchase (DGDP) subsequently awarded a lucrative contract estimated at USD1 billion to Turkish firm Delta Defence for supplying modified Ukrainian armoured vehicles built as per the tender specifications of the Bangladesh Army. The army will receive 600 Tur-K2 and 80 Tur-K3 multipurpose armoured vehicles. They will be delivered in phases, with the first 100 due for delivery in 2018, another 150 in 2019 and all remaining units by 2022. The Tur-K2 is a Ukrainian Kozak-2m 4×4 armoured vehicle that is based on 4×4 Iveco Eurocargo truck chassis. The Tur-K3 is a Ukrainian Otaman 6×6 wheeled armoured personnel carrier. Also procured last year for the army were Metis-M medium-range anti-armour guided missiles from Russia.
Indonesia’s Air Force (TNI-AU), which currently operates four Rheinmetall Millennium cannons (part of the Skyshield-35 air-defence system) for defending the air bases in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Makassar, and Pontianak, will acquire 11 more of these cannons for an expanded air wing at Ranai (in Natuna Besar Island in the South China Sea), which is to be completed by 2019. The TNI-AU is also acquiring Su-35 H-MRCAs from Russia, thus becoming Russia’s second customer after China to acquire such aircraft. The TNI-AU is expected to welcome its first two Su-35s to its combat aircraft fleet this October, after signing a procurement contract to buy 11 of them on February 14 this year. The contract, worth USD1.140 billion, was finalised following negotiations that started in 2017. It includes the signing of a bilateral deal in Moscow in August 2017 to barter coffee, tea, palm oil, cacao, spices and the commodities’ derivatives, processed fish and textiles as well as Indonesia-made defence products.
Indonesia’s state-owned trading company PT Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia and Russian state conglomerate ROSTEC will be the agencies implementing the barter trade. The part-barter deal will allow Indonesia to pay 50 per cent of the Su-35’s contract value by exporting its commodities valued at USD570 million. Under Indonesia’s defence industry law, the procurement contracts for military equipment from foreign producers are subject to at least 35 per cent offset requirements. Russia has said that it will adhere to the offsets requirement by providing a facility for maintenance and repair of the TNI-AU’s Sukhoi fleet of combat aircraft, which presently includes two Su-27SKs, three Su-27SKMs, two Su-30MKKs and nine Su-30MK2s, all operational with No.11 Sqn. The estimated schedule of Su-35 deliveries is as follows: the first two in August 2019; six to be delivered by February 2020; and the final three by July 2020. The TNI-AY’s future force modernisation plans call for procuring new-generation MMRCAs for three squadrons, four airborne early warning and control aircraft, four aerial refuelling tankers, and 12 medium-power radars.
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