The AH-1Z Viper (Image © Bell Helicopter)

Pakistan buys Bell Viper attack helicopter

The Pakistan Army buys 15 Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and a thousand AGM-114R Hellfire II missiles through the US Foreign Military Sales program. The US State Department has given the green light for the 952 million dollar deal on 6 April 2015 and has notified the US Congress of the plan.

Along with the helicopter delivery the Pakistan Army will get two spare T-700 GE 401C power plants for two-engine helicopters. Moreover, the deal includes technical helicopters, AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Systems, communications / GPS / navitagions systems, helmet mounted displays, and other usual hardware that makes the Viper a worthy successor of the legendary Cobra attack helicopter of the Vietnam War era.

The State Department is emphasizing the choopers will be very usefull in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia. “This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes. By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.”

In fact, Pakistan already flies the earlier versions of the Viper / Cobra helicopter. Twenty AH-1S arrived in the mid-1980s, with another eight bought from the Royal Jordanian Air Force in 2013. Moreover, a total of 26 AH-1Fs were delivered between 2007 and 2010. Reportedly three Cobras have been lost in crashes. The AH-1F/S choppers are flown by 31, 33 and 35 Army Aviation Squadron, all three out of Multan Airbase in the Punjab region in Mid-East Pakistan.

© 2015 editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the US DSCA
Featured image: The AH-1Z Viper (Image © Bell Helicopter)