The United States Navy has awarded a $170 million contract for the manufacture and delivery of nine AH-1Z aircraft and nine auxiliary fuel kits for Pakistan, the US Department of Defence said in a statement.
Bell Helicopter has been awarded the contract for the combat helicopters which will be manufactured and 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. It has a top speed of 420 kilometres per hour and a range of 610 kilometres.
The contract is expected to be completed in September 2018.
“Foreign military sales funds in the amount of $170,173,188 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year,” the Defence Department statement said. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity for Pakistan, it added.
In April 2015, the US Department of State approved the possible sale to Pakistan for 15 AH-1Z Vipers with Hellfire missiles and support worth up to $952 million. The contract covered the manufacture and delivery of 15 Lot 12 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, 19 Lot 12 AH-1Zs, one Lot 13 UH-1Y, and 21 auxiliary fuel kits for the government of Pakistan.
In February this year, the US government said it had approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, radar and other equipment in a deal valued at $699 million. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, said it had notified lawmakers about the possible deal.
The agency said the F-16s would allow Pakistan’s Air Force to operate in all-weather environments and at night, while improving its self-defense capability and bolstering its ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.
Military expenditure report
Despite spending $735 million on import of arms last year, Pakistan did not make it to a list of 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2015, revealed a report published by a Swedish think-tank on Tuesday.
The United States remained in pole position as the country that spends the most on its armed forces, by far. Washington’s military spending budget of $596 billion was down by 2.4 per cent from the previous year, a smaller decline than in recent years.
SIPRI senior researcher Sam Perlo-Freeman said the United States now has “additional overseas contingency operations’ (OCO) spending from the war against” the Islamic State (IS) group.
Meanwhile, rising tensions worldwide helped push up military expenditure in 2015, the first increase after four years of declining spending, the report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research said.
For the full-year 2015, world military spending totaled $1.67 trillion, a rise of one per cent from the previous year. The increase was attributed primarily to more expenditure in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East, while the decline in spending in the West was leveling off, SIPRI said.
The world’s second-biggest spender, China, dished out $215 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia which overtook Russia for third place at $87.2 billion. Moscow spent $66.4 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.