Bangladesh Air Force

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Bangladesh Air Force
বাংলাদেশ বিমান বাহিনী
Bangladesh Biman Bahini
Bangladesh Air Force emblem.svg
Founded28 September 1971; 49 years ago (1971-09-28)
Country Bangladesh
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size17,000 active personnel[1]
200 aircraft[2]
Part ofBangladesh Armed Forces
HeadquartersDhaka Cantonment
Motto(s)Bengali: বাংলার আকাশ রাখিব মুক্ত
Transliteration: Banglar Aakash Rakhibo Mukto
"Free shall we keep the sky of Bangladesh"[3]
ColoursDeep Sky Blue, Prussian Blue   
Mascot(s)Flying Eagle
Anniversaries28 September (Air Force Day)
21 November (Armed Forces Day)
Engagements
Websitebaf.mil.bd
Commanders
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Abdul Hamid
Chief of Air StaffAir Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat
Insignia
RoundelRoundel of Bangladesh.svg
Fin flashFlag of Bangladesh.svg
FlagAir Force Ensign of Bangladesh.svg
Aircraft flown
AttackYak-130, Mi-171Sh
FighterMiG-29, F-7
HelicopterBell 212, Mi-17, AW 139
TrainerPT-6, AW 119KX, Bell 206, L-39, K-8W, YAK 130, Let L-410
TransportC-130B, An-32B/C, C130J, Let L-410

The Bangladesh Air Force (Bengali: বাংলাদেশ বিমান বাহিনী, Bangladesh Biman Bahini, reporting name: BAF), is the aerial warfare branch of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, primarily tasked with the air defence of Bangladesh's sovereign territory, and providing air support to the Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Navy. Additionally, the service has a territorial role of 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 the Coalition of the Gulf War and United Nations peacekeeping missions.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

MiG-29 and F-7 aircraft display during Bangladesh Air Force Victory Day Flypast and Aerobatics Show 2016

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[4] and it was launched formally by flying three repaired vintage aircraft on 8 October 1971.[5] BAF's initial personnel were 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.[5] At that time, the embryo of Bangladesh Air Force BAF was formed with less than a hundred officers and a handful of airmen and warrant officers. A significant number of BAF personnel participated 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 Air Commodore Ataur Rahman as sub sector company commanders. Squadron Leader Khademul Bashar participated in the war as Commander-Sector 6.[6]

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,[7] which was to take advantage of the lack of night-fighting capability of the PAF to launch hit-and-run attacks on sensitive targets inside Bangladesh from the air.[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'.[9][10]

The historical Bangladesh Air Force Alouette III which was used in Bangladesh Liberation War. It was the first helicopter of Bangladesh Air Force and it performed successful airstrikes in during the war. One of the Rocket pods is seen in the outfitted pylons attached to its side

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.[11] 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.[11]

After the cease fire and 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.

After independence[edit]

A BAF F-86 Sabre in the BAF Museum

After independence, the BAF received a significant donation from the former USSR. Among the aircraft delivered were ten single-seat Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MFs and two twin-seat Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21UMs. Later China also supplied some equipment.[7]

Apart from the aircraft of Kilo Flight which were donated to 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. Many of these were also returned to service by Bangladeshi ground technicians. The Pakistan Air Force prior to 1971 had many Bengali pilots, air traffic controllers, technicians and administrative officers. 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 Air Force personal from Pakistan in 1973 after the Simla Agreement.[5] In 1977 some personnel of Bangladesh Air Force staged a mutiny.[12]

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.[7] Bangladesh bought 8 Mig-29 from Russia in 1999 under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.[13] 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.[14]

Covid-19 Pandemic Operations[edit]

A Bangladesh Air Force C-130J airlifted tons of humanitarian aid including a Military Medical Team and carried 71 stranded Maldives students from Bangladesh to Maldives during COVID-19 pandemic. BAF also evacuated 70 Bangladeshi Nationals in return flight.

Bangladesh Air Force was very active during Coronavirus 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.[15][16]

Forces Goal 2030[edit]

Yak-130 Mittens of the Bangladesh 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.

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.[17]

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,[18] nine K-8W jet trainer aircraft, three Let L-410 Turbolet transport trainer aircraft[19] and twenty three PT-6 basic trainers.[20] Process is going on for the procurement of sixteen multirole combat aircraft.[21]

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.[21]

BAF earned the Surface to Air Missile capability by introducing FM-90 short range air defence missile in 2011.[22] 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. Process of procuring one battery of medium range surface to air missile system is going on.[23]

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.[24] In June 2019, another contract was signed for the procurement of additional three off-the-shelf C-130J aircraft from UK.[25] As of September 2020, three of the aircraft have been delivered.[26]

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.[27][28] In 15 October 2020 BAF received those seven procured K-8 jet training aircraft.[29]

UN mission deployment[edit]

Female helicopter pilots of the Bangladesh Air Force, serving with MONUSCO
Bangladesh Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules serving in UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO

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.

List of the Chiefs of Air Staff[edit]

Organisation[edit]

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.[30][failed verification] The Bangladesh Air Force is currently commanded by Air Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat, BBP, OSP, ndu, psc.[30][31]

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).[32] 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.

Senior commanders[edit]

Shoulder Appointment Rank & Name Star Plate
British RAF OF-9.svg Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat, BBP, OSP, ndu, psc, GD(P)[30] Air Chief Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Operations) Air Vice Marshal M Abul Bashar, BBP, OSP, ndc, acsc, psc, GD(P) Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Administration) Air Vice Marshal AKM Ahsanul Haque, BSP, ndu, afwc, psc, ADWC Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Planning) Air Vice Marshal MD Shafiqul Alam, BBP, OSP, BSP, ndu, afwc, psc 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 Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Khademul Bashar (Dhaka) Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Nazrul Islam, BSP, ndc, nswc, psc Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Bangabandhu (Dhaka) Air Vice Marshal M Sayed Hossain, OSP, BSP, GUP, ndc, psc, GD(P) Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Zahurul Haq (Chattogram) Air Vice Marshal ASM Fakhrul Islam, GUP, ndc, afwc, psc, GD(P) Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-7.svg Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Matiur Rahman (Jashore) Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Kamrul Islam, GUP, nswc, afwc, psc, GD(P) Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg
British RAF OF-6.svg Air Officer Commanding, BAF Base Paharkanchanpur (Tangail) Air Commodore Md Zahidur Rahman, BSP, ndu, psc, GD(P) 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) Air Vice-Marshal star plate.svg

Branches (officer)[edit]

Branches of officers of Bangladesh Air Force are:

  • General Duties (Pilot), abbreviation: GD(P)
  • General Duties (Navigator), abbreviation: GD(N)
  • Engineering
  • Air Defense Weapons Controlling (ADWC)
  • Air Traffic control (ATC)
  • Meteorology
  • Logistics
  • Administration
  • Finance/Accounts
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Medical (officers are seconded from army)

Trade groups (airmen)[edit]

Trade Groups of airmen are:[33]

  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 Operating
  9. Life Saving Equipment
  10. Photography
  11. Air Traffic Control
  12. Education
  13. Cypher
  14. Meteorological
  15. Medical
  16. Secretarial
  17. Supply
  18. Ground combatant (GC)
  19. Mechanical Transport Operator
  20. Provost
  21. Catering
  22. Musician
  23. Aircrew

Rank structure[edit]

Officers[edit]

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
 Bangladesh Air Force
No equivalent 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).png
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[edit]

Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Bangladesh Air Force
08.BAF-CWO.svg 07.BAF-SWO.svg 06.BAF-WO.svg 04.BAF-SGT.svg
03.BAF-CPL.svg No equivalent 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[edit]

Aircraft and equipment[edit]

Current inventory[edit]

Bangladesh Air Force MIG-29UB fly over
A BAF AW139 Maritime search and rescue helicopter
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Fighter aircraft
MiG-29 Russia multirole BM/UB[34] 8[35] Upgraded from Belarus.
Chengdu F-7 China fighter F-7BGI/BG/MB 36[36][35]
Transport
C-130J Super Hercules United States tactical airlifter C-130J Mk-5 / Hercules C-5 5[37] Obtained from the RAF.[38][39][40]
C-130 Hercules United States transport C-130B/E 4[35]
Antonov An-32 Ukraine transport B/C[41] 3[35]
L-410 Turbolet Czech Republic transport 3[35] Used as transport trainer.[42]
Helicopter
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility / transport / assault Mi-17/171Sh[36] 30 5 on order.[35]
Bell 212 United States utility 14[35]
AgustaWestland AW139 Italy SAR / utility 4[35]
Trainer aircraft
Yakovlev Yak-130 Russia lead-in fighter trainer 14[36][35]
Hongdu K-8 China / Pakistan jet trainer K-8W 15[36][43][44]
Aero L-39 Czech Republic jet trainer 7[35]
Chengdu F-7 China operational conversion trainer FT-7 11[35] Two seat trainer version of F-7 fighter.
Nanchang PT-6 China basic trainer 22[45] [46]
AgustaWestland AW119 Italy rotorcraft trainer 2[35]
Bell 206 United States rotorcraft trainer 206L 6[35]
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Selex ES Falco Italy surveillance Used in UN peacekeeping mission.[47]

Missiles[edit]

Bangladesh Air Force FM-90 Crotale SAM
Name Origin Type Notes
Air-to-air missile
K-13 Russia IR guided missile 75[48]
R-73 Russia IR guided missile 100[48]
PL-5 China IR guided missile [48]
PL-7 China IR guided missile 100[48]
PL-9 China IR guided missile 14[48]
R-27 Ukraine Beyond-visual-range missile 28[48]
Anti-ship missile
Kh-31A Russia Air launched AShM [49]
Air Defense
FM-90 China SAM 75[48]

Radars[edit]

Name Origin Type Maximum Range Quantity Notes
1L117 [1] Russia Air Search Radar 450 km 2 [48]
Selex RAT-31DL Italy AESA Air Search Radar 470 km 1 [48]
KRONOS LAND [2] Italy AESA Air Search Radar 250 km [48][50][51]
YLC-6 China Air Search Radar 180 km [52][53]
AN/TPS-43 United States 3D Air Search Radar 450 km 4 [48]
JY-11B [3] China 3D Air Search Radar 260 km [53]
JH-16 China Air Search Radar 450 km [53]
Plessey AR15 [4] United Kingdom Air Search Radar 148 km [53]
RP-5GI [5] Czech Republic Precision Approach Radar(PAR) 30 km [53]
RL-64I [6] Czech Republic S-Band Airport Surveillance Radar(ASR) 120 km [53]

Future modernisation plans[edit]

The BAF has an ongoing modernisation programme under Forces Goal 2030 to become a strong force to defend the sky of Bangladesh. To efficiently perform the 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 to ensure maritime security. A maritime air support operation centre (MASOC) will be set up under southern command.[20] Another air base is under construction at Sylhet.[54]

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. However, the number of radars ordered were not disclosed.[55]

In the third Bangladesh-UK strategic dialogue held in May 2019, two countries desired to further strengthen the defence ties between them. United Kingdom expressed its readiness to support Bangladesh with procurement of high calibre multi-role combat aircraft alongside other modernisation programmes.[56] 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.[57] They offered Bangladesh Air Force two types of attack helicopters and BAF opted for the AH-64 Apache helicopters.[57]

In January 2020, Boeing has confirmed that, the AH-64E attack helicopter has been down-selected by BAF after a competitive bidding process.[58]

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.[21]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 8 April 2008: Squadron Leader Morshed Hasan died when a Chengdu F-7 crashed in Ghatail upazila of Tangail. The pilot ejected from the aircraft but was critically injured when its parachute malfunctioned. He died at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka after he had been rescued from the scene.[59]
  • 20 December 2010: Squadron Leaders Ashraf Ibne Ahmed and Mahmudul Haque were killed as Bangladesh Air Force PT-6 aircraft crashed near Barisal Airport.[60]
  • 8 April 2012: A pilot officer Shariful Haque died and a squadron leader Muhammad Mamunur Rashid was injured when a Aero L-39 training aircraft crashed in Madhupur upazila of Tangail.[61]
  • 13 May 2015: A Mi-17 helicopter on a training flight belonging to Bangladesh Air Force crash landed at the airport and caught fire. All three people on board sustained major injuries and were hospitalized.[62]
  • 29 June 2015: Flight Lieutenant Tahmid went missing when bis F-7MB crashed into the Bay of Bengal. The Aircraft took off around 10:27am from Johurul Haque air base, lost contact with the control room around 11:10am and later crashed in the Bay of Bengal in Patenga around 11:30am.[63][64]
  • 11 July 2017: A Yak-130 'Mitten' training aircraft crashed at Lohagara in Bangladesh’s southeastern Chittagong District.[65] Two pilots were unharmed.[66]
  • 27 December 2017: Two Yak-130 aircraft crashed at Maheshkhali Island in Cox's Bazar due to a mid-air collision. The official report states that the accident happened during the breaking of formation at a training exercise. All four pilots of two aircraft were rescued alive.[67][68]
  • 3 January 2018: 1 Mil Mi-17 helicopter crashed in Sreemangal whilst carrying Kuwaiti delegates. Everyone was rescued alive.[69]
  • 1 July 2018: Squadron Leader Md Serajul Islam and Squadron Leader Enayet Kabir Polash were killed when their K-8W trainer aircraft crashed at Bookbhora oxbow lake near Jessore Airport on a night training mission.[70]
  • 23 November 2018: Wing Commander Arif Ahmed Dipu died when his F-7BG crashed in Tangail's Madhupur upazila on a training mission. The fuel tank of the aircraft reportedly caught fire after it used weaponry in the sky, leading the pilot to eject in low altitude. The pilot was later found dead and parts of plane were seen scattered.[71][72]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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