Air Force, Bangladesh, DAC
Air Forces,  Travel

Bangladesh Air Force at Dhaka

Where? Dhaka, Bangladesh
When? December 2016

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Bangladesh’s „Victory Day“ is celebrated each year on December 16th. As written in one of the country’s newspapers, this day “celebrates Victory Day … recalling the heroic freedom fighters who made the supreme sacrifice to free the nation from the Pakistani marauding forces”. With the importance of the military in freeing the country it is no wonder that a military parade is being held in the country’s capital Dhaka. Time to go and catch some jets at the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport / DAC, which is amongst others home to Fighter Squadrons flying the Chengdu F-7BG(I) and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets!

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For the Bengali people, December 16th, 1971 set an end to a nine-month long War for Independence. Following an era of forming East Pakistan, this Bangladesh Liberation War resulted in the People’s Republic of Bangaldesh. This war in the early 1970s was preceeded by 23 years of intense political struggle for democracy, national idendity and national liberation in that part of the world. On this day the roads are adorned with the Bangladeshi national colors green and red, and the hustle and bustle of everydaily life comes to a standstill to give room for celebration.

Victory Day Celebrations at Dhaka

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To show the nations pride and strength, “Victory Day” is celebrated with a military parade that is a good opportunity to catch some of the Bangladsh’s Armed Forces aircraft, including aircraft and helicopters of the Army, Navy and obviously the Air Force. These aircraft can be seen in formations flying overhead the National Parade Square in Dhaka performing a fly-past, which is also attended by Bangladesh’s president and prime minister.

For the formation overflights you clearly do not get masses of aircraft, but being in Bangladesh quality clearly outscores quantity. The aircraft and helicopters that participate in the formation depart from and land back at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport (DAC), which is good opportunity to also see the aircraft that are usually based on other airfield all around Bangladesh. This is especially the case for the CJ-6 trainer aircraft from the Air Force Academy at Jessore and Bogra. Furthermore the L-39s and fairly new Yak-130s from Chittagong’s Zahurul-Haque Airbase are very rarely seen operating from other airfields.

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Catching the aircraft is a tricky business and, as so often, it strongly depends a lot on the weather conditions, which are rather difficult in this part of the world. Even though December is dry season around Bangladesh, a rather high humidity, haze and air pollution are ever prevailing and make it difficult for the nice camouflage schemes of the military aircraft to pop out.

Victory Day has a nice side effect being a public holiday. Dhaka hustle and bustle is getting a bit quieter that day, and believe it or not, this bit of less road traffic does not only make it easier to get around, but it also helps that the air feels a bit cleaner, and the sky is a bit bluer. At least a little bit…

Planespotters at Dhaka

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Regarding photography, believe it or not, Bangladesh also has an active planespotter scene. They are online at and give regular updates on Bangladesh’s aviation scene. For spotting at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport (DAC), the “Runway Café” is recommended. It is ideally located close to the Northern Runway end and offers all the facilities if you plan to hang around the whole day in hot and humid temperatures for some plane spotting.

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Civil traffic during that visit in December 2016 was a bit slow, as Biman Bangladesh has put their DC-10s out of service in 2014. Also their Airbus A310s were retired in the meantime, and United Airways went bankrupt. Therefore the variety of airlines was better during the visit in 2013 (, but catching one or the other special scheme or cargo aircraft such as a UnitopAirlines A300 made up for it.

But finally being able to catch at least one of those attractive MiG-29s or the Chinese-build Chengdu F-7s is worth some of the sacrifices of such a trip.

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Bangladesh Air Force at Dhaka – Photo Gallery

Once again a photographic trip to downtown Dhaka was also the to-do list during my second visit to Bangladesh, and a re-visit of the Sadarghat Boat Terminal on the shores of the Buriganga river including a boat trip around the nearby harbor and street markets is a must see.

Dhaka, Bangladesh Photographic Tour – Photo Gallery

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