Pakistan intends to procure Chinese Z-10 attack helicopter following sanctions by the US

CAIC Z-10 Attack Helicopter

Since 2002, the US has given Pakistan over $14 billion in aid to combat terrorism and insurgents in the region. That money is meant to reimburse Pakistan for its ongoing efforts to defeat militant groups, and it forms part of the $33 billion in total help that the US has given Pakistan over the same time period.

In 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford’s visited Pakistan to meet the country’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi asking him to stop providing safe haven for militant groups — like the Afghan Taliban — that have fought and killed US troops.

The Trump administration announced it has cut $300 million in military aid to Pakistan, increasing pressure on the country to crack down on militant groups that have complicated the ongoing US war in Afghanistan. The Trump administration has now withheld around $800 million in aid to Pakistan this year — and it’s possible more cuts will happen, if Islamabad doesn’t start doing what Washington wants.

The US President Donald Trump cut security funding to Pakistan, withholding the foreign military sale of 12 AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopter and export sanctions related to the US-built LHTEC T800 engines which power the T129 has led to the suspension of that contract.

Pakistan looks set to turn to China for its attack helicopter replacement needs after US embargoes halted sales of both Bell AH-1Z and Turkish Aerospace T129.

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The relative urgency is driven by rival Indian Military’s capability increases, as Indian Army’s is growing its fleet of world-best AH-64E Apaches attack helicopter and Indian Navy’s recent procurement of multi-role MH-60R Maritime helicopter. Indian government recently placed an order to stockpile AGM-114 Hellfire missile and APKWS laser-guided precision rocket capable of hitting targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Islamabad had in 2015 ordered 12 Bell AH-1Zs under the USA’s Foreign Military Sales process and then followed that in 2018 with a deal for 30 Turkish Aerospace T129s worth $1.5 billion.

Z-10-c-ShiminGu_WikimediaCommons
CAIC Z-10 Attack Helicopter

This impasse, and a pressing need to retire its fleet of 48 Bell AH-1Fs, is now pushing Islamabad to consider alternatives, Major General Syed Najeeb Ahmed, commander, army aviation, told Defense IQ’s International Military Helicopter conference in London on 26 February.

“We are looking at other options. One of them is in China in the shape of the new attack helicopter they have created called the Z-10ME,” he says. “In case the first two options do not materialise this third option will be considered.”

Pakistan had previously evaluated the CAIC Z-10, but were not satisfied with the performance of Z-10, Major General Ahmed says the latest iteration may have improved weapons.

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Turkish Aerospace T129 Attack Helicopter

Ahmed is extremely doubtful that the AH-1Z deal can be resurrected, and although Turkish Aerospace is developing an indigenous replacement engine for the T129, he is not confident that this will be ready in time.

In fact, Pakistan has set a deadline of July 2020 for a final decision, Ahmed says.

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