China to Sell Bangladesh 2 Submarines

Vikrant

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Bangladesh has finalized a deal to purchase two Ming-class submarines from China, according to a report in the local New Age newspaper.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina first announced that the country was interested in purchasing submarines back in January, as part of a broader plan to modernize its military. At the time, she did not specify which country Bangladesh would be purchasing the submarines from, but military officials told media outlets that it was in negotiations with China.

The New Age report said that the deal, which is waiting for final approval from the Finance Ministry, for the two submarines was worth $203.3 million. It would be paid by Bangladesh during the fiscal year 2017-2018, with the submarines being delivered in 2019. Seventeen Bangladeshi sailors are being trained to operate the submarines, the report said, presumably in China.

The New Age report said that the Bangladesh Navy had purchased land in Kutubdia Island where it planned to construct a submarine base.

Ming-class submarines (Type 035) are diesel-electric powered submarines based off of the Romeo-class submarines that the Soviet Union built in the 1950s. The Ming-class submarines, however, feature a number of improvements over the obsolete Soviet models. The specific variant that Bangladesh is purchasing, Type 035G, is the most recent and last Ming-class submarine. China built six of them between 1997 and 2001, according to Global Security.

Hasina has made building a “three dimensional navy” a top priority for the country. In January she declared: “We will build a modern three-dimensional navy for future generations which will be capable of facing any challenge during a war on our maritime boundary.”

Bangladesh’s decision to purchase the submarines from China is unsurprising as Dhaka has long relied heavily on Beijing for military equipment. In 2012, it was the second largest market for Chinese arms exports behind Pakistan.

Still, the move has deeply unsettled Bangladesh’s neighbor India, who is concerned about Chinese influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. News of the submarine negotiations between Bangladesh and China had already led India’s Eastern Naval Command to seek a larger presence in the Bay of Bengal, The Times of India reported earlier this month.

The newspaper quoted a senior Indian defense official as saying:

“Why would Bangladesh need submarines? This decision by the government there and the ongoing strife in the country is a matter of concern for us. We also suspect that Chinese submarines are sneaking into Indian territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal region, though none has been detected as yet. This is reason enough for greater naval presence in the region. At the moment, India isn’t really prepared for any conflict in the Bay of Bengal region near West Bengal due to the lack of adequate infrastructure.”

The report went on to describe a number of infrastructure upgrades India’s Navy is making in the area, primarily land it is looking into purchasing on Sagar Island. These include building a new port. Also in West Bengal, India is constructing a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle base in the city of Kolkata.

Bangladesh has long-standing maritime border disputes with India and Burma in the Bay of Bengal. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea International Court decided the Bangladesh-Burmese dispute in Dhaka’s favor last year.

Meanwhile, in 2009 Bangladesh instituted proceedings against India over the dispute in the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration. The hearing took place this month, from December 9th through December 18th. A decision is expected sometime next year.

China to Sell Bangladesh 2 Submarines | The Diplomat
 

waltky

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... decrease emphasis on large aircraft carriers and spend more on submarines...

Study: US Needs More Subs to Combat Chinese Military Growth
Sep 21, 2015 | Faced with China's growing anti-surface ship capacity, the United States should decrease its emphasis on large aircraft carriers in the Pacific and spend more on submarines, space capabilities and ways to make air bases and aircraft less vulnerable, according to a report released earlier this month by Rand Corp.
In the 430-page report, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank analyzed the relative military capabilities of the U.S. and China in certain scenarios based on open-source documents. The analysis makes comparisons using 10 "scorecards" covering air, maritime, space, cyber and nuclear domains. Capabilities were examined at seven-year intervals, beginning in 1996 and projecting to 2017, considering two "plausible" scenarios of conflict between the two countries: a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and its forcible occupation of the Spratly Islands. China claims sovereignty over both.

This past year, China expanded a number of the tiny Spratly atolls through dredging and has built several runways -- even as the U.S. has denounced those moves as militarizing the archipelago. "Over the next five to 15 years, if U.S. and (People's Liberation Army) forces remain on roughly current trajectories, Asia will witness a progressively receding frontier of U.S. dominance," the report said.



Although China is not close to catching up to the U.S. in terms of overall military power, that's not necessary for it to control the region at its doorstep, the report said. "No one wants war; nobody expects war," said Eric Heginbotham, lead author and political scientist at Rand, when explaining the analysis' purpose. "But I think the balance of power affects calculations on both sides. Balance of power has a major impact on the probability of war."

Military dominance by the U.S., however, does not necessarily equate to deterrence in moments of instability when two nations could potentially consider the incentives for a first strike, he said. "If you have a highly offensive force or set of weapons that are very forward deployed -- sort of on the periphery of China -- but not resilient to attack, then in a crisis, both sides could have incentives to strike first," Heginbotham said. Attempting to restore U.S. dominance without thinking about the impact on crisis stability could inadvertently undermine the value of that supremacy, he said.

MORE Study: US Needs More Subs to Combat Chinese Military Growth | Military.com
 

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