Bangladesh’s defence is anchored by a modernizing military, focused on maintaining regional stability and safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty, addressing both conventional and emerging security threats. This article provides an intriguing insight into the MBT-2000, Type 59 Durjoy, Type 69-IIG, VT-5 Light Tank, and Type 62 Light Tank, their origins, capabilities, and the pivotal role they play in safeguarding the nation.
The Top 5 Tanks
The Al-Khalid, also known as the MBT-2000, is a main battle tank that was jointly developed by China and Pakistan. Recently, the government of Bangladesh made a historic decision to purchase 44 brand new MBT-2000 tanks and 3 armoured recovery vehicles (ARV) as part of their army’s modernisation plan. These tanks and ARVs were procured from China, while the helicopters were purchased from France through government-to-government deals. The cost of the tanks was approximately Tk 1,201 crore, as per the agreement. The Bangladesh Army has already started inducting these fourth-generation China-made MBT-2000 tanks, with the order being enough to equip one regiment. The deal is valued at $162 million.
The Type 59 Durjoy serves as an enhanced variant of the Type 59 main battle tank. From 2014 to 2019, a total of 174 Type 59 tanks were upgraded to the Type 59G(BD) Durjoy using kits imported from China. Initially, Bangladesh acquired their Type 59 tanks through Egypt, purchasing 30 ex-Egyptian Army service tanks in 1975. Subsequently, over 100 additional tanks were procured. Between 1990 and 1972, the Bangladesh army acquired several hundred of Type 59 tanks due to financial constraints, making the affordable Chinese Type 59 tanks the sole viable option. Although these tanks are still in service, they are gradually undergoing upgrades. The Durjoy modernization program commenced in 2015 (2010 for the initial version) to bring the old and obsolete Type 59 tanks up to modern standards. The tank upgrades took place at the Central workshop of Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory, with assistance from NORINCO. The Type 59G Durjoy draws significant inspiration from the Chinese ZTZ96 tank.
The Type 69-IIG is an improved variant of the Type 69-IIA main battle tank, which was upgraded using kits from China between 2010 and 2013. Originally, Bangladesh received their Type 69 tanks from China, and the Medium Tank T-69 II G is a Bangladeshi upgrade to their fleet of T-69 tanks. This upgrade was likely inspired by the modifications performed by Pakistan as the Type 69-IIMA. In 2013, the tanks underwent upgrades that included a new long-barrel 105 mm cannon, ERA packages on both the UFP and turret and likely FCS upgrades, especially for the optics. The Bangladesh Army also procured 44 MBT-2000 tanks from China in 2011, and their engineers have completed the upgrade process of Type 69 tanks to Type 69IIG standard.
In 2019, Bangladesh ordered 44 VT-5 light tanks from China. The formation of a light tank regiment will include these tanks. The tanks were delivered in November 2019 and are currently used by the Chinese army. The VT-5 is equipped with a 105 mm rifled gun with a firing range of 3,000 m. It carries various types of ammunition, including anti-tank guided missiles with a range of 5,000 m. The tank’s hull and turret are made of steel armour, and it can be equipped with additional composite armour and ERA for extra protection. The VT-5 is powered by a 1,000 hp diesel engine and has a maximum road speed of 70 km/h. Maximum cruising range of the tank is 450 km.
The Type 62, a Chinese light tank, was developed in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, the Bangladesh Army acquired a total of 40 Type 62 light tanks from China. However, most of these tanks were decommissioned after 2005. According to tanks-encyclopaedia, Bangladesh placed an order for 36 vehicles in 1984. These tanks had limited operational use compared to other Chinese tanks in the Bangladesh Army. The original Type 62s were retired between 1995 and 2000. Subsequently, the Bangladesh Army initiated modernization programs to upgrade their retired Type 62s. These upgrades were first showcased in the Bangladesh army’s magazine, ‘Shena Barta (1999 publication)’. However, due to crew dissatisfaction and other factors, the modernized version had a very short service life and was likely retired between 1999 and 2003. All of these tanks underwent local upgrades.