The US has decided to provide Ah-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan to sharpen up its counter-terrorism efforts, a media report said on Saturday.
The Department of Defence has already awarded nearly $58 million in contract to Bell Helicopter for providing the choppers to Pakistan as part of a larger $581 million deal, most of which goes to the American Navy, the Dawn reported.
Pakistan had requested the sale of 15 AH-1Z helicopters in April, it is not clear how many of them have been signed for at this stage.
Some of these initial helicopters will be delivered by the end of August 2018, the report said.
A notification by the US Department of Defence stated that 10 per cent ($57.9 million) of the overall contract value covered the sale to the government of Pakistan which suggests that this is an initial deal for the first two helicopters only, with contracts for the remaining 13 (plus spares and support) to follow.
The original US Defence Security Cooperation Agency notification of Pakistan’s request included 1,000 AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles for "a precision-strike, enhanced-survivability aircraft that can operate at high altitudes".
The AH-1Z and Hellfire II capability will enhance Pakistan’s capability to conduct all-weather, day and night operations in remote mountainous areas.
Pakistan is battling militants in the remote mountainous areas bordering Afghanistan. The US has been pushing Pakistan to take action against the Taliban as it withdraws most of its combat troops from neighbouring Afghanistan, which is facing its own Taliban insurgency.
Recently, Pakistan also signed an agreement with Russia to purchase MI-35 ‘Hind’ attack helicopters.