bdnews24.com Senior Correspondent
Dhaka, Sept 6 (bdnews24.com)—The prime minister has given directives to turn Cox's Bazar airport into an advanced airbase for speedy dispatch of fighter planes, according to a paper presented by defence ministry officials to a parliamentary body on Sunday.
The report presented to the standing committee on defence said the ministry has also proposed allocating 25 percent of the annual defence budget to the air force until 2014 for its modernisation.
It further said that the government was moving to set up a radar station in Cox's Bazar, followed by one in Barisal, to bring the country under radar coverage. The paper said the defence ministry had finalised the specifications for procuring a radar system for Cox's Bazar.
None of the standing committee members spoke to the press after the meeting.
"We have not discussed anything newsworthy today," defence committee chairman Idris Ali told reporters at the parliament building.
The paper tabled at the meeting by defence ministry officials said, "As per the directives of the Prime Minister, preparation for turning the Cox's Bazar air port into an advanced air base is on.
"The ministry is coordinating with the civil aviation authorities of Bangladesh to stretch the existing runway and build [other facilities]."
Ministry officials said in their report that the deputy commissioner of Cox's Bazar had already taken measures to acquire land for the purpose.
The report also said the ministry had drafted short-term, mid-term and long-term plans to modernise the air force.
"As per the short-term plan, 25 percent of the annual military budget can be given to the air force until 2014.
"Or a special budget allocation can be made to install vital instruments for modernisation of the air force," it said.
"Short-range and mid-range surface-to-air-missile (SAM) system can be procured to secure the air force's installations as mid-term measures (from 2014 to 2021)," said the report.
It also said the existing A-5, FT-6 and F-7 fighter planes could be replaced in phases in the long-term.
"After 2021, measures can be taken to purchase new planes for the air force's three squadrons," said the defence ministry paper.