Bangladesh Air Force History
Bangladesh Air Force was formed at Dimapur, Nagaland(India) on 28 September 1971. At that time, the embryo of Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) was formed as 'Kilo Flight' to assist the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters). Initially, 'Kilo Flight' consisted of three aircraft (given by Indian Air Force), 09 officers and 47 airmen. Squadron Leader Sultan Mahmud (retired as Air Vice Marshal and Chief of the Air Staff of BAF) was appointed as the commander of the 'Kilo Flight'. After having some basic training on air to ground weapon delivery, 'Kilo Flight' successfully bombed Fuel storage in Chittagong and Narayangonj area and thus the journey of BAF had commenced. During the last phase of the Bangladesh Liberation War the newly formed Bangladesh Air Force carried out 12 successful attack missions over Pakistani targets.
After liberation in 1971, the Bangladesh Air Force was initially equipped with captured Pakistan Air Force equipment, mostly F-86 Sabres, and even these were few. Other equipment was donated from India and included: C-47 Dakotas, DHC-3s and Alouette Helicopters. Despite the lack of aircraft, the Pakistan Air Force prior to 1971 had a large number of Bengali pilots, many of them distinguishing themselves, this provided the Bangladesh Air Force with a good number of trained pilots.
As the 1970s progressed, the Bangladesh Air Force received equipment from the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Soviet equipment included: MiG-21s, An-24s, An-26s, and Mi-4 helicopters.
In the 1980s and 1990s, both France and the United States donated trainer aircraft, such as the T-37. Also, several refurbished Shenyang F-6s were donated by Pakistan during the period. Some were lost in 1991 though due to floods. Despite the loss, many of these aircraft saw service in the Bangladesh Air Force, although they have since been phased out of service.
Currently the Bangladesh Air Force is armed mostly with Chinese jets, A-5s and F-7s and 35 F-6s. Recently it also procured Russian MiG-29s, although this has caused a controversy in political circles due to the cost, and the lack of an immediate threat to Bangladesh. The controversy has led to talk of withdrawing the aircraft due to the costs involved in maintaining them. C-130 Hercules have also been ordered by the Bangladesh Air Force, and should enter service soon. Bangladesh Air Force also bought 12 Jian F-7MG's in the mid '90s and recently in 2005-6 bought 16 F-7BG's from China which are modern updated version of MiG-21'Fishbeds' but with revised wing design and more modern avionics and weaponry recently developed by China.F-7MG is fitted with Western-made radar and equipment. The F-7G is a further improved version introduced in 2002.
Bangladesh Air Force has acquired four U.S. C-130 B transport aircraft. These aircraft will improve the military's disaster response and peacekeeping capabilities. In the late 90's the Air Force also procured 8 MiG-29 fighters from Russia for $124 million.Various sources also claims that Bangladesh Air Force now operates a full quadron of 16 nos MiG-29's.
In 1995 the Bangladesh Air Force made its largest purchase from the U.S to date: 12 T-37 jet trainers. More recently, Bangladesh procured four C-130B Hercules transport aircraft(from old US Air Force stock). Bangladesh Air Force have also shown interest in purchasing the Russian Su- 30 fighters.
Bangladesh Air Force acquired 16 F-7BG, which were modified F-7MG (with single piece canopy) with reconnaissance capability (similar to 16 F-7MB) in 2005-6. These aircrafts have capability to carry reconnaissance pods and operate the equipment inside the pods from cockpit. As witnessed during the Independence and National Day Parade 2007 aerobatic show, the wing design of 16 F-7BG are modified from the initial wing designMiG-21s. Instead of original delta wing of MiG-21s, the F-7MGs have merged delta wing, allowing the aircraft to maneuver in shorter radius. Bangladesh Air Force has also acquired Mi-171 which are improved version (with nose mounted radar) of Mi-17 in 2006.