“I hope that ‘Air Force Base Bangabandhu’ would initiate a new horizon in materializing the dreams of Bangabandhu to build a modern, professional, effective and well-disciplined armed forces ,” she told the inaugural function.
The Prime Minister also expressed the hope that with the setting up of the base, effectiveness and capacity of the air force would get a new dimension in protecting air space and national interest of the country.
Sheikh Hasina said the base, which is the centre of the heart of Bangladesh Air Force, has been performing its great responsibility for protecting the country through inadequate infrastructure and hiring the manpower from other bases.
But with the fresh set up of this base, she said, the pressure on other BAF bases would be reduced to a great extent.
The inauguration of new air base coincided the induction of most-modern F-7BG1 fighter planes and MI-171 SH helicopters in the Bangladesh Air Force.
Sheikh Hasina took salute of a smartly-turned out parade arranged in connection with the ceremony.
After the parade, a colourful fly-past of various BAF aircraft and an aerobatic show of the newly-inducted F-7BG1 aircraft were held. The Prime Minister also witnessed the static display of the newly-inducted aircraft and helicopter.
On her arrival at the BAF Base Bangababandhu, Sheikh Hasina was received by Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Moahhammad Enamul Bari and Air Officer Commanding of BAF Base Bangabandhu Air Commodore Ehsanul Gani Choudhury.
Members of the cabinet, advisers to the Prime Minister, Chinese ambassador in Dhaka, chiefs of Bangladesh Army and Bangladesh Navy as well as high civil and military officials were present on the occasion.
The Prime Minister said with the induction of new fighter planes and helicopters, the operation capacity and professional efficiency of the air force would further increase.
“It is our commitment to you that despite the resource constraints, our government won’t hesitate to provide the assistance whatever possible,” she said.
Paying rich tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina said new organizations and most-modern equipment were inducted to the armed forces after the independence thanks to farsightedness and sincere efforts of the great leader.
“Most modern MiG-21 fighter planes, transport planes, helicopters and air defence RADAR and other war equipment were added to the Air Force during the period,” she said.
The Prime Minister said her government, in continuation of materializing the dreams of the Father of the Nation, has given special emphasis to modernize the armed forces.
“Time-befitting and most-modern war equipment have already been inducted in the armed forces to enhance war strategies, efficiency and capacity of army, navy and air force,” she said.
Setting up of a air base for flying, the second of its kind after independence, and induction of F-7BG1 and MI-171 SH helicopters are the reflection in the modernization policy of the armed forces by the present government, she said.
The Prime Minister said as part of the steps to modernize the air force, the past Awami League government had inducted the fourth generation most modern MiG-29 fighter planes, superior C-130 transport planes and high- powered air defence RADAR.
” This time, we have taken necessary measures to build a strong, efficient and modern air force,” she said.
She said surface to air missile, the first in the country, has already been inducted in the air force to strengthen the air defence system, while setting up of Bangabandhu Aeronautical Centre for smooth and cost- effective maintenance of fighter planes and other equipment is an epoch-making and timely step.
Mentioning that operating fighter planes in the war fields is very challenging and a sacred duty, she said the government is providing allout support to the air force so that the brave youths who are inspired in patriotism come forward in larger number to face this challenge.
“You will have to be careful in flying and maintenance of modern F-7BG1 fighter planes and MI-171 SH helicopters procured by the hard-earned money of the people,” she said.
Expressing her full confidence in the air force pilots, the Prime Minister hoped that the pilots would get opportunity for better training and they would be able to build themselves as efficient pilots through the new war planes.
“Our infrastructural base for the training is very strong and we are not lagging behind quality and efficiency of the
training,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the trainer pilots are showing their skill through the training not in the country, also abroad. “We are moving forward in the international arena shoulder to shoulder with the air forces of the developed countries,” she said.
The Prime Minister said the members of the air force are bringing pride and praise for the country and the nation by participating in the UN peacekeeping mission.
“We hope that with the induction of new war planes and helicopters in the air force, it would enhance the country’s image to a great extent as a capable force,” she said.
Stressing the need for watching the air space of the exclusive economic zone of the country’s maritime boundary, Sheikh Hasina said for this, the government has set up a new air base in Cox’s Bazar.
“Steps have been taken to establish an air defence RADAR in the air base, and in its continuation, purchase of transport trainers and maritime search and rescue and jet trainer planes is under process,” she said.
Besides, she said, the government has a plan to procure training fighter planes, helicopters and air defence RADAR through an agreement with Russia.