"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to U.S. foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia," the announcement says.
The local Bell representatives in Pakistan, Access Zone, did not respond to queries regarding when they expected delivery should the deal be approved, or if they hoped more would be acquired to fully replace the approximately 48 Cobras currently in service.
Analysts in Pakistan expressed surprise at the Monday's announcement. of a potential AH-1Z Viper deal to Pakistan. Though the Viper had long been suggested as a replacement for the current fleet of AH-1F/S helicopter gunships, for many years, US congressional opposition seemed to make acquisition of analysts had considered further US equipment unlikely. unobtainable due to Congressional opposition
Analyst, author and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, says he was "absolutely certain that the US would not supply any more attack helicopters."
But he however welcomes the announcement.
"This is very good news for Pakistan on two counts: First, the Army is getting one of the most sophisticated attack helicopters in the world; second, it shows that the US has not abandoned Pakistan, as so many people thought it had," he said.
"It does require the assent of Congress," said Cloughley, "but if Congress were to block it this would send a negative message concerning its determination to keep up the war on terror."
This is not to say that unrestricted arms sales will resume as "it seems that the main criterion is that US-supplied materiel must be COIN [counterinsurgency] specific. There would be difficulty in providing systems that are obviously intended for general warfare, i.e. against India," Cloughley says.
Claude Rakisits, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, said that "in its deliberations about whether to approve such a sale to Pakistan, the fact that the provision of this new capability will not alter the military balance between the two nuclear-armed states – Pakistan and India – will make it easier for the lawmakers to agree to this sale."
The announcement comes at a time when multiple types of helicopters are being pursued, both to replace the Cobras, and potentially support paramilitary and special forces operations.
Analyst Haris Khan of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said that even though it is a small number, the Vipers could replace at least some of the Cobras and it comes at a time when China has supplied three WZ-10 gunships, and Russia may be close to supplying approximately 20 Mi-35 Hinds
The US sale includes 32 T-700 GE 401C engines; 36 H-1 technical refresh mission computers; 17 AN/AAQ-30 target sight systems; 30 629F-23 ultra high frequency/very high frequency communication systems; 19 H-764 embedded global positioning system/inertial navigation systems; 32 helmet mounted display/optimized top owl; 17 APX-117A identification friend or foe; 17 AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems; 17 AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser sets; 18 AN/APR-39C(V)2 radar warning receivers; 15 joint mission planning systems; and 17 M197 20mm gun systems.
Bell Helicopter, Textron, General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed Martin will be the principal contractors.