US to Sell Pakistan $1 Billion in Weapons

The US is closing in on a nearly billion-dollar arms deal with Pakistan, saying it will protect American interests in South Asia.

Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter(© Flickr/ Mario Sainz Martínez)

Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter(© Flickr/ Mario Sainz Martínez)

The $952 million sale, approved by the US State Department on Monday, will comprise of 15 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and 1,000 Hellfire II missiles. The deal will also includes engines, targeting and positioning systems, and other equipment, according to an announcement by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

“This proposed sale of helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia,” the agency said in a statement.

DSCA had sent the proposal to Congress, citing its intention to support Pakistan’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations with “precise-strike, enhanced-survivability aircraft that can operate at high-altitudes.”

The agency stressed that the deal will “not alter the basic military balance in the region,” and will contribute to the “foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia.”

Pakistan had put in requests for the defense equipment, including helicopters, engines, missiles and computers.

“By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments,” the proposal said.

Pakistan’s army has been battling militants in North Waziristan for the past year and has been involved in fierce clashes with the homegrown Taliban insurgency since it was revived in 2004.

In December, Taliban gunmen killed 154 people when they attacked a school in Peshawar.

The US sale of military equipment, which will also involve technical support and training, will be implemented over a period of five and a half years. It comes after China confirmed a plan to sell eight submarines to Pakistan for $5 billion.

Source: MOSCOW (Sputnik) – April 8, 2015

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