New-Old Hercules Planes for Bangladesh
The Bangladesh Air Force currently flies 4 ancient C-130B Hercules medium transports, bought second-hand from the USAF. A May 2012 DSCA request [PDF] would replace them with 4 merely old C-130E Hercules medium transports, bought second-hand from the USAF. The 4 Lockheed Martin C-130Es would be provided for free as Excess Defense Articles (EDA), along with 20 T56AA Rolls-Royce engines. If a contract is signed, Bangladesh gets these items, but would pay up to $180 million for an overhaul to full flight condition and many safe airframe hours, plus modifications and in-service support. it would also include delivery to Bangladesh, repair and return, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, training, and other forms of US government and contractor support. That contractor will be determined by competitive bids, since there are a number of companies offering “like-new” C-130 refurbishment services.
The DSCA request cites “Bangladesh’s significant contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations,” which is true. It also mentions “operations to counter violent extremist organizations,” alluding to Bangladesh’s creeping Islamization, which sparked a recent coup attempt. Finally, it cites the C-130s’ potential role in humanitarian aid missions, many of which take place at home. Huge swathes of Bangladesh’s population live near sea level or on river flood plains, even as deforestation in other countries and seasonal monsoons create frequent floods. As one might imagine, this combination is less than ideal for Bangladesh. When roads flood out, the BAF’s C-130s and AN-32s can be a useful way to move supplies to helicopter-friendly distribution points.