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Pakistan prepares for inducting AH-1Z attack helicopters

The Pakistan Army’s Military Engineer Services (MES) branch released a tender calling for the construction of a hangar, connecting tarmacs and organizational and intermediate-level maintenance facilities for the Textron Bell Helicopter AH-1Z Viper.

Tenders are to be submitted to the Pakistan Army Engineer-in-Chief at general headquarters in Rawalpindi by 15 March 2018. The new facilities are to be built at the Pakistan Army Aviation Corps’ (PAA) airbase in Multan in Punjab. The total value of the AH-1Z-related construction work at Multan is $5.3 million U.S.

The Pakistan Army has 12 AH-1Z on order from a contract approved by the U.S. State Department in 2015 for 15 AH-1Z and 1,000 AGM-114R anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) worth $952 million. Pakistan issued orders for the aircraft in August 2015 (three) and April 2016 (nine).

Recent tension between Islamabad and Washington regarding the transfer (or lack thereof) of Coalition Support Funds and Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas cast uncertainty on whether the AH-1Zs would be delivered. However, Bell Helicopter stated that production of Pakistan’s aircraft is slated to continue, though it did not provide an update on when the first three aircraft will be delivered.

The MES tender suggests that the program is continuing and that the AH-1Z will factor into the PAA’s fleet in the near-term. However, this would apply to delivery, it is not known when the AH-1Z would be cleared for forward deployment and combat operations.

In addition to AH-1Z infrastructure, the MES tender also requires for the construction of an igloo for the LY-80 low-to-medium-range air defence system (LOMADS) at Khanewal. Khanewal is 40-45 km away from Multan, coinciding with the range of the LY-80 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system (40 km).

The Pakistan Army formally inducted the LY-80 in March 2017, following two separate orders for the SAM system in 2013-2014 ($260 m) and 2014-2015 ($373 m) from China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation. In total, nine LY-80 systems were ordered.

The LY-80 uses a semi-active radar-homing missile with a range of 40 km. An LY-80 system uses an S-band passive electronically-scanned array (PESA) target-search radar (IBIS-150) with a range of 150 km. This is complemented by multiple L-band target-tracking and missile-guidance PESA radars, each with a range of 85 km and capacity to track up to four targets.

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  • by M. I. Aslam
    Posted February 20, 2018 10:34 pm 0Likes

    This looks promising, let’s hope behind the scene diplomacy succeeds

  • by Shershahsuri
    Posted February 21, 2018 12:47 am 0Likes

    This will be the most reliable platform in Army Aviation. Good if its fleet is expanded.

  • by Shafiq Ahmed
    Posted February 21, 2018 3:11 am 0Likes

    Mr Bilal
    Assalam o Alaikum
    PAF recently tested a bvr missile from JF 17.Why is there no article for this event

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted February 21, 2018 3:12 am 0Likes


    The test was part of testing a new instrumented weapon testing range at Sonmiani.

    You can find the article here:

  • by Faisal Ur Rahman
    Posted February 21, 2018 3:19 am 0Likes

    Priority should have been given to long range SAM and not these expensive helicopters mostly useful for COIN . plus buying from USA means vulnerable to sanctions in case we need tech support in war times.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted February 21, 2018 5:54 am 0Likes

    We actually require such gunship helicopters but yes we shouldn’t ha e bought from US.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted February 21, 2018 5:57 am 0Likes

    I guess we will only receive 3 helicopters & supply of other 6 or 9 would be suspended. We should have bought gunships from Turkey or Russia and could have get 20 instead of 12. We should understand that buying weapons from US won’t help us improving our relationship with US.

  • by Navid Butt
    Posted February 21, 2018 8:34 am 0Likes

    Jane’s and other western media reported this news with bvr in inverted comas…..why this doubt?.

  • by Steve
    Posted February 21, 2018 8:49 am 0Likes

    Historically we have used our existing Cobras extensively for COIN. Having said that these new AH-1Z come with a good anti armour capabilities and weaponary. With the COIN element at the forefront, USA would be stupid to refuse them…but they have done stupid things before, so wait and see. Most people have a low opinion of the new admins depth of understanding on complex foreign policy matters, and a militaristic rather simplistic understanding is revealed by a lot of their newer policies, with no fine nuance. State department needs to involved more and not the Pentagon which seems to be running policy…just like us hahaha!

  • by Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2018 9:51 am 0Likes

    Turkey does not have attack helicopters bigger than T129, which seems to have quite thin armours. Russia is probably not going to sell attack helicopters to Pakistan, at least not in large numbers, because of India. It looks like China’s Z-10 is unsuitable for the hot Pakistan terrain. So Pakistan army did not have a lot of choices.

    PA could have ordered Euro tiger, but according to this: Euro tiger HAD (That is the version designed for operations in hot environments) costs $74 million US each, much more than T129, which is listed as $55 million US (It looks like Pakistan was getting a mate rate or volume discount).

    AH-1Z Viper is listed for $40 million, considering the price tag and weight class I am surprised PA did not order more. I think Pakistan ordered T129 instead of more AH-1Z most likely because of the worries of unstable US & Pakistan relationships.

  • by Steve
    Posted February 21, 2018 12:20 pm 0Likes

    I agree 12 is nothing. I think they were hoping for a follow-on order of at least 12 more. 25 is it rather better number. Particularly given 1000 Hellfire missiles 12 makes no sense . They may integrate the Hellfire with T-129.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted February 21, 2018 1:51 pm 0Likes

    Mate, the arguement that russia won’t sell attack helicopters in large numbers to Pakistan because of India is totally false. This is not true. Pakistan wanted to buy AH-1z from US for 2 reasons. 1 was that AH-1z viper is battle proven in Afghanistan & 2nd reason was to improve relations with US which wasn’t a good decision I guess. As for T-129, mate T-129 is a competitor of AH-S cobra.

  • by Joseph
    Posted February 21, 2018 2:19 pm 0Likes

    To be honest the relationship of Russia, India and Pakistan is something I learned from here, but it seems to make sense. Then again I don’t really know the history or details.

    I also believe AH-1Z is more battle proven, at least at that weight class it should have decent armours, probably more suitable for COIN operations than T129.

  • by TZK
    Posted February 21, 2018 4:00 pm 0Likes

    If India can buy western equipment Russia can sell to whoever it desires, I don’t think they are married to each other! If Indian defence forums are anything to go by they are already angry with Russia for supplying s400 to Arabs, Turks along with SU-35 to Chinese.

    AH-1Z is used by USA Marines so it requires minimal maintenance, is designed for hostile conditions and packs plenty of fire power. Unfortunately it will come with so many strings that all these benefits will become irrelevant as soon as it touches down on Pak soil.

  • by Steve
    Posted February 22, 2018 4:49 am 0Likes

    We received $111M CSF only a few days ago, so the US support has not stopped despite all the crowing from across the border. I take the argument that we should dump USA relationship, but realistically they control too much of the world finances etc and it is in our interest to have a working relationship. We will continue our own WOT and where our interests overlap we will do our bit. Nobody in Pakistan is going to compose core interests in Af WRT India and the USA will have to swallow that bitter pill as there really is no other good option for them. Helicopters or no helicopters. Just be patient and let the bluster and shouting settle down.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted February 22, 2018 6:27 am 0Likes

    Do you know that we even overhaul & repair our MI-17 helicopters in Rawalpindi Qasim Aviation base. Mate that is not a big problem. It is russia who provided us the facility of upgrading and repairing of MI-17 so if we buy Mi-28 from Russia then it won’t be a big deal and we would be able to repair and overhaul mi-28 as well. More importantly, USA didnt upgraded our AH-F cobra helicopters so better don’t buy from USA.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted February 22, 2018 6:29 am 0Likes

    Absolutely right… Russia even provided us the overhaul and repairing facility for MI-17 helicopters whereas USA wasn’t even ready to upgrade our AH-F cobra helicopters in even USA. Lol

  • by Shreyansh Rattra
    Posted February 22, 2018 7:10 am 0Likes

    Friend Mi-17 is a utility/transport chopper and mi28 is an attack chopper things really change on tables when it comes to exporting offensive armament to a nation thats hostile to your ally.

  • by Shreyansh Rattra
    Posted February 22, 2018 7:13 am 0Likes

    Yeah but political image of India is way different from Pakistan,even when it comes to imports Us wont hesitate to export armaments to India coz of the large orders like say P-8’s India is the second largest user of it after US,same with C-17,It operates a large fleet of C-130,apaches and chinooks in future moreover its money at last than relations that too when the other nation you are supporting isnt financially sound(PAK)

  • by Joseph
    Posted February 22, 2018 8:49 am 0Likes

    Interesting. That could mean that even as US withdrawing from middle east since the military conflict with ISIS was over, it’s focus on Afghanistan is back. I guess the tough talk before was just to pressure Pakistan to do more.

    That probably means AH-1Z will be delivered, maybe in full.

    Posted February 22, 2018 9:58 am 0Likes

    What I think is that elements in US particularly the Pentagon doesn’t want Pakistan to be alienated to the point of Pakistan totally siding with China. That’s why CSF release and potential delivery of choppers would be a sort of a diplomatic vibe. On the other hand, I do not deny the fact that although our strategic assets may have sources from China, the sophisticated bread and butter weapons i.e howitzers, choppers, atgms have been provided to us by US even when Pressler Amendment pressed hard remember how harpoon missile sales thwarted Indian attempt at blocking karachi.

  • by TZK
    Posted February 22, 2018 1:57 pm 0Likes

    One cannot ‘dump’ a superpower and you need some sort of a working relationship. I cannot see how USA’s long term interest align with those of Pak.

    Just take India as an example, USA wants to use it as a counter to China. Unless India and Pak resolve all their territorial disputes including Kashmir, USA will have to choose between the two and it seems they have chosen India.

    In relation to Russia and India will USA tolerate their advanced weapons inspected by Russians because that is what will happen if India maintains its relationship with Russia. The P8 will not only be used by India to look for Chinese and Pak subs in the IO but by USN to look for Russian Subs off the USA coast. Similarly Russia may have reservations about it’s technology given to India falling into the hands of USA.

    USA has been trying to ‘wean’ Pak off them and to ‘wean’ India off Russia. Pak should improve ties with Russia and not wait until USA ‘dumps’ it or allows India free reign. Unfortunately resource strapped Pak cannot plan ahead but live from day to day.

  • by TZK
    Posted February 22, 2018 2:29 pm 0Likes
  • by Steve
    Posted February 22, 2018 4:44 pm 0Likes

    USA has got processes in place to make sure nobody inspects core technologies. Those include physical barriers linked via satellite, personnel on bases and signed agreements with denial of spares as punishment. They are not stupid. No Russian is going to walk onto a P8 and “inspect” it! Despite denials and delusions of being ”special” from over the border, these restrictions apply even to core allies like UK.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted February 23, 2018 5:00 am 0Likes

    Mi-17 can be used as a medium transport helicopter during war time. MI-28 can be used for border security and counter insurgency. What makes you think that Russia won’t sell MI-28 to Pakistan ?

  • by TZK
    Posted February 24, 2018 6:08 am 0Likes

    You are welcome to the equipment and you better make sure you behave yourselves and not upset them by getting too close to Russia because you never know when you might need the spares and upgrades.

  • by Faisal
    Posted February 24, 2018 1:01 pm 0Likes

    Right on the spot. Pakistan needs long range SAMs. That is one area that needs immediate focus. You can fly hundreds of planes in the air but they all will face enemies long range SAM systems then why not to mount same defence on your side to deter enemy planes from entering your space.

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