Pakistan will procure the Chinese-built Z-10 attack helicopter if Turkey and the United States fail to deliver on their orders of the T-129 and AH-1Z respectively, a senior offer said on 26 February.
Speaking at the IQPC International Military Helicopter conference in London, the commander of Pakistan's Army Aviation, Major General Syed Najeeb Ahmed, said that the Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) Z-10ME "remains an option" if the Turkish Aerospace T-129 and Bell AH-1Z Viper prove to be unobtainable for different reasons.
The Pakistan Army has a pressing need to replace its 32 ageing Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopters that have been in service for more than 30 years, with Gen Ahmed's predecessor, Major General Nasir D Shah, telling Jane's and other defence media in January 2018, "The AH-1 helicopters have provided effective close support for our ground forces engaged in counterinsurgency [COIN] operations, but they cannot be employed effectively in high-altitude operations above 8,000 ft."
In the near-term, the army partially offset these limitations with the four Mil Mi-35s that it ordered from Russian some years ago, and which were delivered to the country in late 2017. Further to the Mi-35s, it evaluated the AH-1Z, T-129, and the Z-10 attack helicopters.
In January 2016 it was announced that Bell had been awarded a contract for 12 AH-1Zs, and in April 2017 Jane's reported that the first three of 12 would be delivered in mid‐2017, with a second order to follow. However, the aircraft were yet to be delivered, and while there has been no official statement concerning reasons for delay it is understood to result from the current strained Pakistan-US relations.
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