US orders nine AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters for Pakistan

Washington, April 5 (IANS) The US Navy has ordered nine AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters for Pakistan, the US defence department has said.

The US Navy on Monday awarded a $170 million contract to Bell Helicopter for the manufacture of the AH-1Z helicopters, Dawn online quoted a Defence Department statement as saying on Monday.

The combat helicopters will be delivered to Pakistan under the Foreign Military Sales Programme, the statement said.

The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine combat chopper based on the previous SuperCobra model developed for the US Marine Corps, Sputnik reported. It has a top speed of 420 km per hour and a range of 610 km.

The contract awarded “for the manufacture and delivery of aircraft and nine auxiliary fuel kits for Pakistan” is “expected to be completed in September 2018”.

Last April, the US State Department approved the foreign military sale to Pakistan for the AH-1Z helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $952 million.

Earlier this year, the US approved a $700m sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, to which India strongly objected.

The sale was made in order to improve Pakistan’s precision strike capability, the US said.

In a document released in February, the US administration told US lawmakers that its Foreign Military Funding (FMF) to Pakistan would focus on seven priority areas “identified and agreed to with the government of Pakistan”.

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