Bangladesh’s reported flirtation with Turkey to buy new warships may come at a considerable political cost, and could boomerang.
Dhaka is apparently discussing with Turkey the import of six Istanbul class guided missile frigates, Dhaka Tribune quoting website defseca.com. Frigates are warships that can play multiple roles but usually specialise in hunting submarines. The Turkish frigates can also perform anti-air as well as anti-surface warfare missions.
According to defseca.com , the Turkish Company STM is the frontrunner for the contract , beating competition from China, Netherlands and Italy.
Though the deal, if it comes through, will be part of a commercial transaction, analysts say that it can impose a considerable political cost on Bangladesh. Any critical military reliance on Turkey can be leveraged for political influence. The danger is particularly acute, as a resurgent Turkey under the Presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to gain an Islamist foothold in South and Central Asia, with Pakistan as the bridgehead. It is therefore likely that a deep military relationship can be used by Ankara to deepen its influence in Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal zone.
India, Bangladesh’s special friend, is also unlikely to support strong political bonds between Dhaka and Ankara, which is a vocal advocate and Pakistan’s buddy in undermining India’s influence in Jammu and Kashmir. Any triangulation of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Turkey at New Delhi’s doorstep with overhang of China in the backdrop is therefore is unlikely to go down well in India
Developed under the MILGEM Turkish warship program, the Istanbul-class is a new generation of frigates.
The Turkish frigates can reach a 29 knots (54 km/h) maximum speed, with a maximum cruising range of 5,700 nautical miles.
The Istanbul-class frigate can operate for 15 days without refuelling, Dhaka Tribune reported.
Bangladesh Navy currently has two submarines, 115 surface ships, including smaller crafts and boats, including five guided missile frigates, two patrol frigates, six guided missile corvettes, among others, the daily said.