Bangladesh Army is going to upgrade Type 59 Tanks

Type 59 Tanks of Bangladesh Army
Type 59 Tanks of Bangladesh Army

 Bangladesh Army is considering upgrade of its Type 59 (T-54C) and Type 69 main battle tanks.

Items to be considered are new engines and transmissions, improved suspension, 125mm smooth bore gun, semi-automatic loader and updated fire control, improved protection against HEAT rounds. Bangladesh Army currently operates some 250 Type-69/II and 100 Type-59 tanks.
These Tanks will have:
  • 125 mm smoothbore gun, firing APFSDS, HEAT-FS and HE-FS. Semi-automatic loading and image Stabilized fire control.
  • 730 hp Engine for improved mobility.
  • Improved suspension.
  • Improved defense with explosive reactive armour and anti-mine cover underneath.
Upgraded Type 59 tanks of Tanzania Army
Upgraded Type 59 tanks of Tanzania Army
After completing the upgrade of its Type 69 II MBT’s, the Bangladesh Army now wants to upgrade all of its Type 59 main battle tanks too as per its own specification.

Four countries including Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan and Ukraine have submitted their proposals with options to upgrade the power pack, transmission, main gun, fire control system and installation of battlefield management system to link the tanks with commanders.
Al zarar Tank of Pakistan Army
Al zarar Tank of Pakistan Army

However Ukraine’s proposal was turned down due to their inability to meet the specifics of the tender but Azerbaijan, China and Pakistan remain in the competition to upgrade 174 Type 59 MBT’s by 2019.

Pakistan’s Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) has offered to upgrade the Type 59′s to Al Zarrar standard but remains flexible to Bangladesh Army’s specifications. A representative of HIT informed  that they would be offering the 125 mm semi-automatic gun, fire control system (computerised FCS and image stabilised sights), power pack, transmission, suspension and ERA that are used in Type 85-IIAP and Al Zarrar MBT’s, which are in service with the Pakistan Army. The upgrade offered by Pakistan would still mean the traditional crew of four consisting of the commander, loader, gunner and driver are retained aboard the upgraded Type 59 tanks.

Similarly, the Chinese have offered two different modifications, one of which failed the trials and another that is still under evaluation consisting of 125 mm smoothbore gun, ERA, FCS, power pack, transmission, fire fighting system, communications and auxiliary machine guns.

The Azerbaijan offer includes installation of additional turret armour, a 125 mm smoothbore gun, a new battlefield management and fire control system, driver night-vision device, new communications system, digital intercom and an auxiliary power unit.

Upgrading would be undertaken in Bangladesh similarly to the Type 69 II upgrade program where the foreign partner would provide the upgrade kits and technical guidance to complete the enhancements.

The Bangladesh Army’s tank inventory consists of a regiment of MBT-2000 tanks, which were delivered in 2013 by NORINCO in a deal consisting of 44 MBT-2000′s and 3 ARV’s worth $162 million. They are supplemented by 352 Type 59 and Type 69 II G Mk I besides 44 Type 62 light tanks.

The Bangladesh Army plans to raise more armoured regiments in order to provide at least one armour regiment to each Infantry Division. Currently there are ten armoured regiments in the Bangladesh Army including an armoured brigade attached to the 11th Infantry Division. Mechanised infantry formations are also being raised in every Infantry Division as per Vision 2030 blueprint.

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