The Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) has released a request-for-proposals (RFP) for an unmanned aerial system (UAS) for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations.
The UAS is to comprise of a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), ground control station (GCS), sensor subsystems and air-to-surface munitions.
â€œBAF has identified the need for UAV for â€¦ [ISR] to meet future challenges and â€¦ to fulfill the requirement of the Forces Goal 2030,â€ the BAF stated, adding, â€œSuitable UAV was an outstanding requirement since the advancement of defense technology and its future implication in BAF.â€
In its RFP, the BAF is requiring the UAV to have a minimum cruise speed of at least 140 km/h and a loiter speed capped at 140 km/h (or lower). The UAV must have a maximum speed of 200 km/h or more and a flight ceiling of approximately 20,000 ft, if not higher.
With a minimum payload of 120 kg across three hardpoints, the UAV is to have a range of 1,000 km. If undertaking an ISR mission, the UAV must have a minimum endurance of 15 hours. When armed with air-to-surface munitions (through two of three hardpoints), the endurance must be at least nine hours.
In terms of the communication data-link between the GCL and UAV, the BAF is requiring that the data-link have a minimum range off 200 km. The bidder must also include available electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR), synthetic aperture radar with ground-moving target-indication (SAR/GMTI) and precision-guided air-to-surface munitions (i.e. air-to-ground missile and precision-guided bomb).
Dhaka is implementing a wide-ranging modernization effort of its armed forces. Bangladeshâ€™s active bids include, among others, 8 to 12 new multi-role fighters, two anti-submarine warfare helicopters, a new 4Ã—4 light armoured vehicle platform and, most recently, a MALE UAV.
The specified UAV will provide the BAF the ability to form a persistent ISR coverage net with time-sensitive targeting and targeted-strike capabilities. It could provide an important boost for its border control and asymmetrical operations efforts without having to commit costlier platforms, such as fighter aircraft.
Based on the BAFâ€™s requirements, the leading UAV contenders would likely come from China and Turkey.
In the latter, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) can offer the Anka, which has a payload of 200 kg, service ceiling of 30,000 ft and endurance of 24 hours. TAI can also include Aselsan and Roketsan sensors and air-to-surface munitions, respectively, providing a complete package to the BAF.