Pakistan Army to seek 20 SuperCobra helicopters from US

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army is likely to seek US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to acquire 20 SuperCobra helicopters to reinforce its fleet of ageing Cobra attack helicopters, which are being extensively used in operations against terrorists in tribal regions.

According to the Pakistan Assistance Strategy Report published by the US State Department, the army envisions acquiring the SuperCobra helicopters. The helicopters alone, it said, would cost at least $500 million and the total acquisition would cost up to $1 billion.

The report says that SuperCobra attack helicopters will not be available for foreign customers till 2015. Equipping the army with such helicopters earlier than 2015 will require either increased production or their diversion from the US Marine Corps.

The report says that Pakistan is likely to maintain its current force of Cobra helicopters, supplemented by armed Bell 412 aircraft. Pakistan currently has 32 Cobra attack helicopters. The sustainability of the current fleet of the helicopters is difficult but possible through commercial channels.

However, the US government is currently spending $75 million from the Pakistan Counter-insurgency Funds to update a portion of the existing Cobra fleet.

Pakistan army has received two squadrons of Cobras since 1983, later upgraded with the ‘C-NITE thermal imaging’ package.– DAWN

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