Both Turkey and Bangladesh will benefit economically and militarily from expansion in defense cooperation, according to analysts.
Turkey is becoming a potential alternative source for Bangladesh for purchasing military hardware and for defense training.
"We have been dependent on some particular countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for military training and equipment for a long time. Now, Bangladesh has also extended its defense cooperation to Turkey,” said Abdul Kaium, a defense analyst and former inspector general of the Bangladesh Police.
“It will be economically and militarily positive for both Muslim nations,” Kaium told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Turkey has modernized its defense sector in the last decade and in most cases has developed domestic production capabilities for many types of military hardware, he said.
“Using the prevailing excellent diplomatic relations with Turkey, Bangladesh can get all sorts of military cooperation, including exchanging technology and the joint venture production of military hardware,” Kaium said.
The bond between Dhaka and Ankara has seen new momentum following the recent signing of a deal on security cooperation, counterterrorism and the curbing of drug trafficking.
The deal was inked on Jan. 8 in Dhaka while Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu was in Bangladesh for a one-day visit at the invitation of his Bangladeshi counterpart Asaduzzaman Khan.
Khan said the deal would cover military training, intelligence sharing, counterterrorism operations and fighting cybercrimes.
Turkey will provide the Bangladesh Police, the Border Guard Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Coast Guard, the paramilitary auxiliary force Ansar and VDP all sorts of support in times of need under the deal.
The South Asian delta nation of 170 million has become Turkey's fourth-largest arms buyer and has reportedly received up to $60 million (TL 811.58 million) worth of weapons from Turkey out of the roughly $1 billion of Turkish defense product exports during the first four months of 2021.
Roketsan, a major Turkish weapon manufacturer and defense contractor, delivered the first batch of the TRG-300 Kaplan missile system with a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) to Bangladesh in June last year, according to a report published by Defense Technology of Bangladesh-DTB, a popular social media page on Bangladesh’s defense.
A 41-member team of the Bangladesh Armed Forces participated in a training exercise in Turkey in 2021. And in April last year, Adm. M. Shaheen Iqbal, the Bangladesh Navy's chief of naval staff, led a delegation to Turkey and visited ASFAT, the state-owned military contractor site that contains 27 ordnance factories and three public naval shipyards, according to the Bangladesh Army’s mouthpiece, Inter-Services Public Relations.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Shafiuddin Ahmed, accompanied by seven army officials, also visited AFSAT in August last year, said the report, adding that the Bangladesh Navy is implementing the national frigate program and “fitting Turkish naval guns onboard its newly built Padma class (Batch II) coastal patrol craft and refitting existing warships.”
Imtiaz Ahmed, a professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said that despite the ups and downs between Bangladesh and Turkey, the nations have maintained warm relations over the last couple of years.
“Both Muslim states have realized that through honoring and sharing with each other, both can benefit hugely,” Ahmed told AA.
He said, over the years, Turkey has developed its defense sector, keeping pace with the modern world and therefore Bangladesh can gain huge defense support from its historical ally.
The Bangladesh Armed Forces have been implementing an ambitious megaproject to promote its defense system to the level of developed nations by 2030 as part of its Forces Goal 2030.
As part of the project that was initiated in 2009 and revised in 2017, authorities have been increasing the defense budget every year. It adopted a $4.45 billion military budget for the fiscal year 2021-22.
Ahmed said both countries can greatly benefit through cooperation in many sectors like defense, tourism and education.
“Currently there are several ongoing conversations between Turkish companies and Bangladeshi counterparts,” Turkish Ambassador in Dhaka Mustafa Osman Turan said during a recent exchange with Bangladeshi journalists.
He added that Turkey has already delivered multi-launcher rockets to Bangladesh, while Ankara is ready to launch joint ventures in shipbuilding not only for military purposes but also for nonmilitary services.
Turkey’s interior minister also said that for a stable and peaceful world, Turkey and Bangladesh should be stronger.
“If a strong Bangladesh is established, a strong Turkey will be established and if a strong Turkey is established, a strong world will be established," Soylu said while visiting Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
AKM Shahidul Haque, a former police chief and defense analyst, told AA that both states are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League and have a very long and historic bond as Muslim friends.
“Turkey has advanced a lot in the defense sector and so Bangladesh can approach Ankara more confidently for technology transfers and other defense cooperation using the existing outstanding relations,” he said.