Bangladesh increases military cooperation and strategic relations with Türkiye

Military cooperation between Bangladesh and Türkiye has taken a new dimension in recent years, characterized by a significant increase in arms purchases by Bangladesh from Türkiye. This dynamic is part of a context of strengthening bilateral relations and diversifying armament suppliers in Bangladesh, within the framework of its strategic goal of modernizing its armed forces by 2030.
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Bangladesh previously acquired Bayraktar TB2 from Türkiye. (Picture source: Baykar Technology)

The collaboration in the field of defense between Bangladesh and Türkiye has intensified recently, resulting in a notable increase in the acquisition of military equipment by Bangladesh from Türkiye. This is part of the country's overall strategy to modernize its armed forces by 2030.

Bangladesh has established strategic relations with several major Asian countries, including India, China, and Japan, and is now seeking to deepen and increase its relations with other powerful countries like Türkiye. The visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Qatar in May 2023 was a key moment, where she emphasized the strategic transition of bilateral relations with Turkey, taking into account Bangladesh's balanced position amidst the changing dynamics of the Arab world and the Middle East. This development was corroborated by the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in June 2021 with the Turkish state-owned arms manufacturer Rocketsun, known for producing weapons conforming to NATO standards.

Türkiye, for its part, has expressed a marked interest in strengthening its military cooperation with Bangladesh. Türkiye's "Asia Anew" initiative, launched in August 2019, aims to diversify its diplomatic relations with Asian countries, focusing on cooperation and coordination through institutional mechanisms. As part of this initiative, Türkiye seeks to strengthen its ties with Bangladesh, one of its oldest partners in Asia.

Military relations between the two countries are not limited to arms purchases. Türkiye also offers training programs and technology transfer. For example, in June, Ankara trained 41 members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. In addition, Türkiye has expressed its interest in having joint ventures in shipbuilding, not only for military purposes but also for non-military services.

Economically, Türkiye has noted the sustained economic growth of Bangladesh and its increasing geopolitical importance. Bangladesh's military budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 amounted to 4.45 billion dollars, revealing the market size and demand for armaments for the Bangladesh Armed Forces. In 2021, Bangladesh became the fourth largest buyer of arms from Türkiye, with purchases of 60 million dollars in the first four months of the year.

This effort is all the more relevant in the face of ongoing power dynamics in the region, notably due to the military expansion of China and India. Bangladesh, located in a geopolitically strategic neighborhood, seeks to balance the growing regional influences by strengthening its military capabilities. This includes diversifying its sources of armament, as evidenced by its increased acquisitions from Türkiye.