Bangladesh, a country that boasts of Golden past, a developing present and strong future is one of the fastest growing developing nations. A country, which has seen a war of liberation in the seventy’s, has shown immense economic and social growth with GDP close to 6-7% per annum. The country’s economy is largely supported by its service and agriculture sector. The country, which is a nouveau liberated free nation, has seen violence, genocides and political instability during liberation war. This lead to formation of defense forces in the country to safeguard the demographics.
The three wings of Bangladesh Defense Ministry are Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force. The Bangladesh Air Force’s came into existence in Pakistan Pre independence but it proved lethal to the country of Pakistan during the Liberation war Of Bangladesh.
History of Bangladesh Air Force
The Bangladesh Air Force is originated from Pakistan Air Force in 1950-51. However, when in 1930 the Indian Royal Air Force was formed, people from this region were included for the local assistance, thus the seed of the force were sowed during Indian war of Independence. Later, in 1971 when Bangladesh attained freedom from Pakistan, Bangladesh Air Force got its official name as BAF.
During the celebrated war of liberation against Pakistan, Bangladesh Air Force a faithful adherent gave Pakistan the worst defeat that they have seen with their Air warfare techniques. Bangladesh Air Force, once a part of Pakistan Air Force, played an active role in Indo-Pak war of 1965.
When India got its freedom, the country got divided into India and Pakistan and based on the religion, the Hindu people joined India. Muslim majority was forced to join the Eastern Part of Pakistan. The people who primarily spoke Bengali as their mother tongue were divided on the basis of religions which lead to mascaras in the region and the Hindus from the region were forced to flee to India.
This Eastern region of Pakistan or the East Bengal had no similarity with people or culture of Pakistan, People here spoke different language, culturally they were distant, the only similarity they had with Pakistan was religion. But people from this part never got any equal treatment either from people or government of Pakistan and this lead to large scale dissatisfaction among the educated and intellectual class of people who were serving different departments in Pakistan Government like Army, Navy and Air Force.
The Pakistan Air Force had many dissatisfied officers who wanted to liberate the country. In 1971, under the leadership of Flight officer A K Khander, the air force leads country to the freedom. Later, he became the first Chief of Bangladesh Air Force (Staff). The air men from this region were constantly under threat from Pakistani military for conspiring against them. One such historic conspiracy is Agartala conspiracy of 1969. This conspiracy was criticized by public of then East Pakistan and people of this region felt suppressed. The mastermind of this conspiracy was Air man Zahurul Haque and he was killed during this mission. The country saw light of freedom on 26th March 1971 and Bangladesh Air Force celebrated its official rising day on 28th September 1971.
Bangladesh Air Force is the air wing of Bangladesh Military services, the force played crucial role during war as well as peace time. The primary duty of the Bangladesh Air force is safeguarding the aerial territory of the country from external threats but apart from these primary functions, Bangladesh Air force is very active in domestic as well as the international front. Bangladesh Military services have been a key member in peace keeping mission of United Nations and Bangladesh air Force is ahead in stand of nation.
Bangladesh Air Force is into massive Nation Building task and plays a vital role during search and rescue operations. Bangladesh is a country which is frequently affected by floods and other natural calamities and during such time Bangladesh Air Force shows its expertise in crisis and disaster management.
In the year 1991 Bangladesh was lashed by one of the severe cyclone, which resulted in huge loss in terms of infrastructure and people. Even Bangladesh Air Force lost more than eighty aircrafts that were operational. Due to this loss Bangladesh Air Force suffered major losses in terms of slow momentum but slowly and steadily, with Government’s Defense expansion plan, a substantiate amount of budget was allotted for procurement of more aircraft and modernization of the air base.
During 2005, South East Asian countries were destroyed by tidal waves that had erupted due to shifting of earth surface plates which resulted in not only human loss on large scale but also flora and fauna of these countries came under threat. Bangladesh Air force participated in the rescue and relief operation in the famine affected region. Bangladesh is one of the members of SAARC and operation SAARC Bandhan was initiated in Srilanka and Maldives and Bangladesh Air Force had sent a team of 28 air staff with two helicopters and transport aircrafts.
During these operations Bangladesh Air Force was at their best. They sported the best of the spirits in the rescue of not only high officials and politicians of the country but also common people who were trapped in the affected areas. Although Bangladesh Air force faced lots of difficulties in terms of infrastructure support, they helped people with food, shelter and clothing even in unfavorable conditions. Bangladesh Air Force emerged as heroes in the eyes of media after this 2005 rescue operation.
Bangladesh Air Force Present
Bangladesh Air force employees nearly 11000 air staff including 600 pilots. Bangladesh Air Force Head Quarter is at Dhaka Cantonment. The Head quarters are divided into three Branches, namely, Administration and Special Duties, Material and maintenance and Operations and Training. Bangladesh Air force is lead by Chief of Air Staff followed by Assistant Chiefs of Air staff- Administration and Special Duties, Material and maintenance and Operations and Training followed by Air Officer Commanding.
The Bangladesh Air Force has many more departments for its smooth functioning the departments are categorized as Engineering, Air Traffic Control, Meteorology, Administration and Training, Education, Air Defense Weapon Controller, Accounts, General Duty (Navigator), Legal, General Duty (Pilot) and Logistics.
The Head Quarters of Bangladesh Air Force are centrally located at Dhaka but there are different bases that operate from different part of the country. Some bases have been named in the honor of the Liberation war heroes. The major bases are the BAF Base Pahar Kanchanpur Tangail, BAF Base Kurmitola Dhaka; there are many units like Muolavibazar Radar Unit, No. 71 Squadron Bangladesh Air Force at Shamshernagar and Dhaka and No. 74 Squadron Bangladesh Air Force at Chittagong and Bogra Radar Unit.
BAF Base Zahurul Haque Chittagong is named after Agartala conspiracy martyr, BAF Base Matiur Rahman Jessore and BAF Base Khademul Bashar Dhaka. A new operation base has been established at Cox Bazaar for forward post. This base is operation at Burma border due to safety issues and illegal in filtration of people from this border. The base will also provide safety to civil and military enterprises around these borders.
Training is another important aspect in technical intensive organizations like Air Force and to train the future and present officers of the force The Bangladesh Air Force academy was formed. The academy imparts training to all the branches of Bangladesh Air Force.
The Bangladesh Air Force Academy imparts level to in service officers at different levels and adding another feather to its Hat the academy has designed and developed various courses in which officers from different friendly countries also take part.
The hierarchy at officer’s level at Bangladesh Air Force begins at the top with
Air Marshal, Air Vice-Marshal, Air Commodore, Group Captain, Wing Commander, Squadron Leader, Flight Lieutenant, Flying Officer and Pilot Officer.
Every Air force in the world is known with its strength of convoy of aircrafts that range from fighter planes and planes for logistics to helicopters. Bangladesh Air Force in its initial years got support from countries like Soviet Union in acquiring jet planes and MIG fighter aircrafts, but during the military coup of 1975 Bangladesh political ties with China and America strengthened which resulted in a cold war with Russia.
Bangladesh Air Force has different types of air crafts ranging from Operational Conversion Unit, transport air craft, Counter insurgency, Primary fixed wing trainer, helicopter and intermediate jet trainer to Multi-role combat air craft and Rotary fixed trainers. A multi-role aircraft, as name suggests, performs more than two roles, the primary role being fighter and the other functions are air to surface attack as well as other tasks like electronic warfare. Bangladesh Air Force has more than 64 of such air craft’s which have unit assignments in squadrons of 5, 8, 21 and 35.
The Operational Conversion Unit is a very important unit of Bangladesh Air Force as it acts as support unit of specific mission for which pilots are trained. The pilots are educated here about the technical specifications of the air craft along with the best tactics for the best performance of the machine and air weapon. Bangladesh Air Force has more than 22 of such OCUs’ and in squadrons of 5, 8, 21 and 35. The transport aircrafts are of different types like airliners, cargo planes to name a few Bangladesh Air Force has 7 such aircrafts. An-32 modal of transport aircraft possessed by BAF has dual role of bomber and transporter. The squadrons assigned in this unit are 3 and 101st Special flying unit.
Apart from this Bangladesh Air force has more than forty one helicopters which are fully armed in squadrons of 1, 9, and 101st special units. Bangladesh Air force is continuously working towards modernization of the force with regard to technical aspects and workforce.
Bangladesh Air Force is active in national as well on international front. The force plays pivotal role not only during war times but also during peace time.
The peacetime operations have proved vital in stimulating the economic growth of the nation. Bangladesh is often lashed by floods and natural calamities and Bangladesh Air Force plays a pivotal role in helping nation in such disastrous times with its vigilance and pro active solutions.
Bangladesh is a democratic country and like any other democracy Elections are very important times when any country experiences political instabilities and ups and downs, Bangladesh Air Force has time and again helped country with violence free and safe elections. The force is active not only during the voting process but also supervises the counting till the end results are announced. This has won them appreciation from people from the country.
Bangladesh Air Force has a medical team, which is always active during famines and droughts and works like a mammoth during difficult times in country. The Medical team with its infrastructure support comes as a trustful aid to the ailing and poverty struck people of the country.
Air Force comes to the rescue of people in maintaining discipline on the roads. Dhaka is a densely populated capital city of the country, the city houses all from riches to rags and also is the power center of the country. The city is also known as city of Rickshaws and Mosques. With population comes different problems and one of the major problems being traffic. Traffic here is haphazard and heavy such that traffic police alone is not able to control it single handedly. The air force plays a major role in such situations.
Bangladesh Air Force has an association which is run by women’s welfare body. The association works towards betterment of the families of in-service and retired people of the force. The Association started its welfare operation in 1977 six years after official formation of the force and carries out different activities for benefit of people like imparting education and various cultural activities. Bangladeshis are gifted with art of making Handicrafts from jute and other natural materials and the Association encourages them by providing employment opportunities to families of in service, retired and deceased staff family members. Through these activities the Association not only generates employment but also provides financial benefit to the force.
Since Bangladesh is a developing nation education had taken a back seat during times of liberation. Bangladesh Air Force has carried forward this task of government by establishing BAF Shaheen colleges. The schools are offering quality and cost effective education to the students who will become better citizens in turn country will be benefited from their academic achievements. The students from these schools and colleges are being trained for professional courses as well for overall growth in all fields including sports, quiz and debates.
Bangladesh Air Force is an important and active member in UN peace Keeping mission it has carried out different operations in different countries some of them which are notable and earned Bangladesh Air Force name and fame are MONUC, East Timor, UNGCI,UNAMSIL, CONGO and Ivory Coast to name a few.
Future of Bangladesh Air Force
The future expansion program of Bangladesh Air Force is well crafted and well planned. The government has announced a determined defense plan for procurement of world class equipment, technology, hardware and weaponry for its Air Force base. The government of Bangladesh is in talks with super powers of the world for acquiring state of the art equipments and air craft for strengthening the defense system of the country. Although an active Peace keeping member Bangladesh is in constant hate-love relationship with neighboring countries of India, Pakistan and Myanmar but believes that the country will not wage a war against anyone unless rubbed in a wrong way. The Government has allocated 11% of the country’s budget for defense activities which is a record high in recent years.
The country is continuously accumulating sophisticated and modern tools for upgrading the defense forces and strengthens them further. Bangladesh is in talks with many countries like Pakistan, China and America for procurement of latest aircraft and technology. Bangladesh Air Force is getting their own reserves of latest aircraft and their major supplier is China. Bangladesh Air Force will also comprise of SAM which will strengthen the Air Force even on land. Bangladesh stand against the nuclear weapon is appreciable and in order to meet the growing power demand in the country, Bangladesh is using nuclear power for the betterment of the country and not for the devastation of others.
A country which was marred by violence and genocides during the war of liberation believes in maintaining peace in the world. The government is continuously trying to maintain good relations with neighboring countries like India, Myanmar, Pakistan and also super powers like America and China. Although a small country, Bangladesh stands for its cultural people and world’s largest small scale industry zone that contributes sixty percent to the country’s economy. Bangladesh Navy along with Bangladesh Army and Air Force are committed to the national and international safety of not only people but also flora and fauna of the country.