Expressing her firm optimism that Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) would be turned into a most modern air force soon, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina here today said two new air bases will be built in the country to further strengthen the force.
“In terms of technology and strategy, Bangladesh Air Force will be established as a most modern, professional and all-round air force at home and abroad soon Insha Allah,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said setting up two new air bases — one in Barisal and another in Sylhet — is under process. “I believe that these activities will further strengthen the force and increase its capability,” she said.
The prime minister was addressing the President Parade of 74 Bangladesh Air Force Academy (BAFA) Course and Direct Entry 2017 Course of Bangladesh Air Force at BAF Academy Parade Ground here this morning.
Sheikh Hasina said multirole combat aircraft, modern basic training helicopters, jet trainer aircraft, simulators, unmanned aerial vehicle system, long and short range air defence RADAR and medium range surface to air missiles are going to be added to the air force.
“Besides, the organogram of the air bases and headquarters was approved,” she said.
Earlier, the premier reviewed the smartly turned-out parade and took salute at an impressive march past as the chief guest while she also handed over trophies, certificates and flying badges among the flight cadets.
Flight Cadet Academy Under Officer Ahmad Musa commanded the parade, which was followed by a spectacular fly past of different BAF aircraft.
On her arrival at the venue, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Abu Esrar and Commandant of BAF Academy Air Commodore ASM Fakhrul Islam received the premier.
Ministers, parliament members, army and navy chiefs, diplomats, senior civil and military officials, distinguished people in the region and guardians of the flight cadets were also present.
The premier asked the Bangladesh Air Force members to stay always ready for playing a role in any need of the country alongside safeguarding its (country) independence and sovereignty.
“I hope that you would always remain vigil to keep free Bangladesh’s air space being imbued with the spirit of the great Liberation War and true patriotism as well as remaining respectful to holy constitution,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina also directed the newly-commissioned air force officers not to consider themselves isolated from the people and always try to bring smiles on their faces.
“You’re the children of the country and never think yourselves isolated from the common people … you’ll always try to bring smiles on their faces,” she said.
The premier asked them to remain always active in practicing the basic training they received from the academy in the working life and achieving efficiency for adapting with the increasing technological advancement and changes.
“You’ll have to perform your responsibility with utmost honesty, sincerity and integrity … you’ll have to build yourselves in such a way so that you could fulfill hopes and aspirations of the nation,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh Air Force is playing a pioneering role in tackling natural disasters, rescue operation and relief distribution at home and abroad.
“Air Force also brightened Bangladesh’s image in the world by making significant contributions to the UN peacekeeping missions,” she said.
The premier said the air force which spread its wings with only three aircraft during the war of liberation is now enriched with most modern fighter planes, air defence RADAR, missiles and latest technologies.
Reminding the air force members that Bangladesh earned its independence in exchange for blood of three million martyrs, she said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt of building a happy and prosperous country.
Sheikh Hasina said the Father of the Nation framed a defence policy in 1974 to build strong and trained armed forces suitable for an independent state.
Bangabandhu, she said, also took an initiative to establish a modern air force considering Bangladesh’s geographical location and military strategical aspect.
The prime minister said after the assassination of Bangabandhu none took any initiatives for the development of armed forces.
She said the Awami League government after assuming office in 1996 took programmes for modernisation and making more time-befitting the air force.
“We inducted the fourth generation MiG-29 fighter planes, wide-bodied C- 130 transport planes and high-powered air defence RADAR into the air force in 2000,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government in 2000 for the first time appointed female commissioned officers in the armed forces.
She said her government framed the long-term “Forces Goal-2030″ in the light of the Defence Policy of Bangabandhu.
“In line with it, we’ve already added different types of fighter planes, transport planes, helicopters, surface to air missiles and high-powered air defence RADAR,” she said.
The premier said the construction work of international standard Bangabandhu Complex for the Air Force Academy is progressing fast. “With the completion of its work, the working area of the academy will be increased and the quality of the training will be enhanced,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government remains active for setting up new installations for modernisation and fulfilling the future demand of the academy.
“With the completion of these development works, I hope that the academy will be able to bring laurels not only at home, also on the world stage,” she said.
Pointing out Bangabandhu’s foreign policy — “friendship to all malice to none”, the premier said Bangladesh wants to advance in the light of this policy.
She said Bangladesh is now a role model of development in the world and made visible progress in socioeconomic uplift.
“We want to stand on the world stage keeping our head high and taking forward this achievement … the days are not far away, when Bangladesh will establish itself as a developed and prosperous country Insha Allah,” she said.
With today’s Winter President Parade, a total of 79 flight cadets — 68 flight cadets from 74 BAF Academy Course and 11 from Direct Entry 2017 — were commissioned. Among them 13 were female cadets.
Flight Cadet Mirza Md Zobair Hossain was presented with the coveted “Sword of Honour” for his best all round performance in 74 BAF Academy Course, while Flight Cadet Shahriar Tanjim received the “Commandant’s Trophy” for his best performance in General Service Training.
Flight Cadet Mirza Md Zobair Hossain received “Birshreshtha Matiur Rahman Trophy” for his best performance in flying training, while Flight Cadet FM Shahidul Islam Sujon received “Chief of Air Staff Trophy” for his best all round performance in Ground Batch.
Number 01 Squadron which was adjudged the “Champion Squadron,” was awarded with Academy Colour for overall performance.
Two pilots of air force and two pilots of Bangladesh Navy received flying badges from the prime minister.