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Dhaka to buy two Russian helicopters for border guards

Bangladesh will procure two Russian multi-role choppers for Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) as part of modernisation of the border force.BGB director general Major General Abul Hossain said they had other options but chose Mi series choppers as their rate of accidents is low and Bangladesh Air Force pilots are familiar with them. “We examined other options. We could buy from Eurocopter but the position of Mi series is better than others,’ he said.The BGB chief said that he had visited Russia recently.Abul Hossain said they would need to depend on pilots from Bangladesh Air Force as neither the Border Guard nor the Home Ministry has pilots. He said they are now building heliports in Chittagong.BGB additional director general Abul Hasnat Muhamed Khairul Bashar, who is in the process of recommending the specifications of the two choppers, said they would pick either Mi 17 or Mi 171 helicopters.He declined to comment on the unit price of the Mi choppers but a defence ministry official said that generally a Mi 17/171 cost 1bn taka but depends on the deals considering the ‘options and avionics matters.The Air Force has a number of American Bell 212, Russian Mi 17 and Mi 171 and Italian AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters.The BGB had a few aircraft in the past and one of its aircraft was under supervision of Air Force. “We have compared the capabilities our neighbours have,” said the BGB chief. Indian Border Security Force has an air wing since 1969 and its fleet consists of Embraer-135 J, Avro (HS-748) and Super King B-200 aircraft in fixed wing and ALH (Dhruv), Cheetah and Mi-17 1V in Rotary Wing. The BGB chief said they are procuring the military choppers to transport personnel and rations to and from the remote battalions in Chittagong Hill Tracts.General Abul Hossain also said they are upgrading the riverine platoon to a battalion and procurement to this end is underway. He also highlighted the measures the force had taken to secure the border and plans they have taken to curb border crimes.He said they are planning to fight jointly against drug smuggling while vigilance would be strengthened against arms smuggling ahead of the next national elections.He also said they are working to lower the number of border killings and have already opened the border for Indian cattle meant for Eid al-Adha, to be celebrated in first week of September.

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