Pakistan signed a contract with the Italian defence giant Leonardo (formally known as Finmeccanica) to acquire an undisclosed number of AugustaWestland AW139 general utility helicopters. The AW139s will be used for search and rescue (SAR) duties, and will join the 11 already in use by the Pakistani government. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2017.
Comment and Analysis
With nearly 1000 helicopters built for 240 customers worldwide, the AW139 is a popular and well-trusted platform for utility and transport purposes. It is a positive sign to see Pakistan continue building out its existing fleet, as opposed to acquiring a different helicopter type to take on essential tasks, such as SAR and medical evacuation.
Although not a defence topic on the surface, the necessity of building up Pakistan’s civil services, law-enforcement, and paramilitary capacities is a relevant issue. As these entities become stronger, the lighter the burden becomes on the armed forces, especially in terms of first response and policing.
Aviation is a comparatively complex and capital intensive necessity, one that can be difficult to attain for organizations with limited financial resources (but ever increasing scope).