India willing to share all military hardware with BD
India is ready to share with Bangladesh any military hardware being manufactured for India's defense forces, Indian Defense Ministry's Secretary on defense production Raj Kumar said at a virtual meeting on Thursday.
"We are keen to work with Bangladesh for platforms like Akash (missiles), radars, mortars, artillery guns, ammunitions, etc," Raj Kumar said at a virtual meeting on Thursday.
The defense equipment is compatible with the need for modernizing the Bangladesh defense forces under the Forces Goal 2030.
Addressing a virtual session on 'India and Bangladesh-Make for the World, Raj Kumar said, the defense cooperation and partnership between India and Bangladesh had made significant gains in the last few years.
The High Commission of India in Dhaka jointly organised the discussion with the Indian Defense Ministry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Several officials from Bangladesh and Indian sides joined the discussion.
This is not the first time, the Indian government has expressed keenness on engaging Bangladesh in exporting and coproducing heavy defense equipment since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), a non-binding deal between the two countries during a visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi in 2017 for a US$500 Indian loan for buying military equipment under suppliers' credit system.
India also said its shipyards are willing to partner with Bangladeshi shipyards for construction of platforms as per Bangladesh requirements through joint ventures, co-development and collaboration for both commercial and defense requirements.
In March, 2020 Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar requested Bangladesh to utilize a line of credit extended by India for purchasing military equipment at a meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart AK Abdul Momen on August 20 in Dhaka.
Following the meeting Momen said, "They requested (us) to use the Memorandum of Understanding signed on $500 million line of credit extended by India (to Bangladesh) for defense purchase."
"We are yet to buy anything under the defense MoU," Momen said, adding that the Armed Forces Division was working on the matter.
Earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar urged Bangladesh to utilize the credit for defense purchase. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has repeatedly mentioning the issue and underlined the potential for robust defense cooperation between the two neighbors.
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has also talked about defense cooperation recently during a meeting with Bangladesh High Commissioner in Delhi.
Meanwhile, in February, 20202 India launched a promotional activity in Dhaka for selling defense equipment to Bangladesh as a part of Indian efforts to export defense equipment to Bangladesh.
The Indian High Commission in Bangladesh organized a seminar on defense equipment in February 2020 at a hotel in the capital that reflected the eagerness on part of Delhi to sell weapons to Dhaka.
Representatives from twelve different Indian firms participated in the event.
It is not mandatory to buy arms from India under the MoU rather it is an option to buy arms if Bangladesh military feels the necessity, said the officials.
They also reminded that the defense purchase does not always necessarily involve tanks or guns but it could be military software like radars, he added.
Meanwhile, the USA has also pursued Bangladesh to buy the same items for the last few years.
The US in a recent move has also intended to sell sophisticated defense equipment, including Apache helicopters, to Bangladesh. The deputy secretary has also raised the issue to Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK M Momen to use the advantage of US-BD defense pact.
However, Bangladesh did not agree.
Defense cooperation and partnership between India and Bangladesh has made significant gains in the last few years, he said, adding that there were potentials for the two countries to engage in long-term strategic partnership in the areas of shipbuilding for both commercial and defense requirements.
Meanwhile, Dhaka procured 71 percent of its arms from China.
Kumar said the close proximity of Indian shipyards to Bangladesh is an additional advantage for both the countries.
"This may result in a long-term strategic partnership in production, development and maintenance. It will be a win-win situation for both the nations to achieve their common objectives. The strategic partnership between India-Bangladesh can become a pillar of regional strength and economic cooperation," the FICCI quoted Kumar as saying in a press release.
Sanjay Jaju, Additional Secretary (defense production) of the ministry, said the Indian defense sector has a lot of potential and invited Bangladeshi companies to invest in this sector.
"We have opened up two defense industrial corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and both corridors will leverage existing ordnance factories and private manufactures in the region. We invite investments from Bangladesh in these corridors and explore opportunities where we can co-produce and co-develop equipment for mutual use," Jaju said.
Addressing the programme, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Minister of Shipping of Bangladesh, said Bangladesh is the third largest economy in South Asia with a rich history in ship-building.
"Today, ship-building is a growing industry in Bangladesh and has great potential. Since independence, Bangladesh has created a large fleet of 20,000 inland and coastal commercial vessels," he said.