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For decades, Bangladesh has been a significant purchaser of military equipment from China, relying heavily on Chinese-made hardware to bolster its defense capabilities. However, recent issues with the quality and reliability of these imports have prompted Dhaka to lodge complaints with Beijing. This development raises concerns about the sustainability and dependability of China as a key defense supplier.

The Bangladesh military has reported multiple instances of faulty parts and technical problems across various branches. Notably, the Bangladesh Navy has encountered significant issues with Chinese-supplied vessels. Corvettes, patrol crafts, and onshore patrol vehicles have all shown manufacturing defects and technical challenges. These problems have led to operational difficulties and increased maintenance costs.

The Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) has also faced substantial challenges with Chinese equipment. Technical problems have been reported with Chinese-made F-7 fighter jets and short-range air defense systems. Additionally, there have been issues with firing ammunition for the Chinese-made K-8W aircraft soon after delivery. These incidents highlight the broader problem of reliability and effectiveness of Chinese military hardware.

Moreover, Chinese-supplied airborne interception radars and other radars on Bangladesh’s fighter aircraft have failed to meet accuracy standards, compromising the operational effectiveness of the BAF. These radar systems are critical for defense operations, and their underperformance raises serious concerns.

The Bangladesh Army has also encountered difficulties with Chinese-made Main Battle Tanks (MBT 2000) purchased from China’s North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). NORINCO has reportedly struggled to supply necessary parts for the repair and maintenance of these tanks, impacting the army’s operational readiness.

The Bangladesh Navy’s experience has been equally problematic. Two Chinese-made frigates, BNS Umar Farooq and BNS Abu Ubaidah, arrived at Mongla port with multiple defects. Chinese companies demanded additional payments to repair these vessels, further straining relations between the two countries. Additionally, Bangladesh discovered that two submarines purchased for over $100 million each were obsolete, exacerbating frustrations with Chinese suppliers.

Last September, the Bangladesh Navy informed China Vanguard Industry Co. Ltd. (CVIC) of issues with the C704 system installed on the warship BNS Nirmul. However, CVIC only agreed to upgrade the system at an additional cost, adding to Bangladesh’s grievances. Bangladesh’s dissatisfaction with Chinese military hardware is also evident in its plans to replace 36 of the 45 Multi Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) imported from China with Turkish-made units.

Bangladesh is not alone in its dissatisfaction with Chinese military hardware. Other countries, including Myanmar, have reported similar issues with Chinese fighter jets. These recurring problems could have broader regional implications, potentially prompting other countries to reconsider their defense procurement strategies.

The ongoing issues with Chinese military equipment have led Bangladesh to explore alternative suppliers. Turkey has emerged as a viable alternative, with Bangladesh planning to replace a significant portion of its Chinese-made MLRS units with Turkish-made systems. This shift indicates a potential reevaluation of defense partnerships and a move towards diversifying military procurement sources.