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ISLAMABAD — Sources here have confirmed that Germany and Pakistan are negotiating for the transfer of 40 surplus German helicopters.
Reports that Germany was planning to export the helicopters were traced to the April 28 issue of the German news weekly, Der Speigel. It cited an April 24 letter from German Deputy Defence Minister Thomas Kossendey to the parliamentary defense committee saying such a deal was possible despite German law banning arms sales to crisis regions.
The helicopters in question are MBB Bo-105 light utility helicopters, which in German Army service have been used in the anti-tank role when equipped with six MBDA HOT anti-tank guided missiles.
The report stressed, however, that the helicopters will be transferred unarmed, and the brackets and mounts used for carrying weapons will be removed.
No details of the potential deal were forthcoming from the Pakistani military’s Inter Services Public Relations media branch when contacted by Defense News.
However, an informed source here connected with the deal said, “This request is being discussed. It has been requested by Pakistan and is currently in the vetting stage.”
The source also clarified the variant of the helicopter and its potential use in Pakistan.
“The specific type is the search-and-rescue version, which will have provision for a medical officer and a stretcher.”
Pakistan’s military is experiencing a well-reported helicopter shortage, but though the Bo-105 is a fast and agile small helicopter, analysts question the value of the potential deal.
Former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, is unimpressed by the potential deal.
“The MBB Bo-105 is an elderly helicopter and has been out of production for years, and I doubt that a fleet could be properly maintained unless there was a vast amount of spares provided, as there was, for example, with the Australian Mirages,” he said.
In 1990, Pakistan acquired 50 retired Australian Dassault Mirage-IIIO/OD fighters, plus jigs, fabrication material and a considerable amount of spares for a fraction of their value.
Though ostensibly purchased for spares, most were overhauled and returned to service by the Pakistan Air Force.
Nevertheless, Cloughley is still skeptical because unlike the Mirage-III, the Bo-105 is not currently in service with Pakistan.
“There is also the matter of training aircrew and technicians, which is always a considerable task when acquiring any new type of equipment,” he said.