The Pakistan Army expects to enhance its counter insurgency capabilities in Waziristan following the introduction of new rotorcraft expected this April.
According to Major General Khalil Dar, the general officer commanding of Pakistan’s Army Aviation (PAA) branch, new high performance helicopters entering service will enhance the army’s ability to conduct all-weather, day and night operations in North Waziristan in the east of the country, and other remote and mountainous areas. Speaking at the recent IQPC International Military Helicopter conference in London held in early February, Gen. Dar thanked Airbus Helicopters for its fleet of H-125M Fennec armed reconnaissance helicopters, eight of which will enter service in April.
According to official specifications, these helicopters have the capability to fly in excess of 10000 feet (3166 metres) altitude, and will work with the army’s Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters; twelve of which have been ordered by the PAA, the first three of which will be delivered by the end of this year. Pakistan ordered the first three helicopters in August 2015, and placed an additional order for nine helicopters in April 2016.
Open sources note that the AH-1Z aircraft will be equipped with General Electric T-700-GE-401C turboshafts, Northrop Grumman H-1 Technical Refresh Mission computers, Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-30 targeting systems, Rockwell Collins AN/ARC-210 629F-23 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency (30 megahertz to three gigahertz) communications, Honeywell H-764 Global Positioning/Inertial Navigation Systems, Thales Optimised Top Owl helmet-mounted display, BAE Systems APX-117A identification friend or foe equipment, Orbital ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems, BAE Systems AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, Northrop Grumman AN/APR-39C(V)2 radar warning receivers, and General Dynamics’ M-197 20mm gun systems. Moreover, the contract covers the procurement of 1000 Lockheed Martin AGM-114R Hellfire-II missiles, plus parts, training and logistics support. These aircraft are being procured via two contracts, the first of which was issued in August 2015 to cover three AH-1Zs procured for $58 million, with a second contract in April 2016 for nine aircraft at an estimated $170.2 million, giving an average unit price of circa $19 million per aircraft.
Both the AH-1Z and H-125M helicopters will replace the current PAA combat teams of Bell AH-1S Cobras and Bell 412EP light utility helicopters that are restricted to operating at less than 8000ft (2435m). The H-125Ms, sources tell asianmilitaryreview.com are expected to be operational by the end of this year, with the AH-1Zs following by the end of 2018.