According to Russian News Agency TASS, Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has agreed to sell advanced Mil Mi-35M (Hind E) combat helicopters to Pakistan. Although the initial contract apparently just calls for the delivery of four attack helicopters, political and military analysts say the fact that Russia is selling its most advanced combat choppers to Pakistan is telling and another sign that Putin intends to to flex Russian military muscles all across the globe.
More on Russian sale of advanced attack helicopters to Pakistan
Around a year ago, Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov announced that Russia was lifting its embargo on the sale of military hardware to Pakistan, and he was already holding negotiations on the delivery of combat helicopters to the Asian country.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry eventually released an announcement noting the countries were negotiating the delivery of an order Mi-35 helicopters. Military analysts note that Pakistan currently has several Mi-17 helicopters provided by the U.S. to help in the fight against militants.
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The Mi-35M is a fully upgraded version of the workhorse Russian Mi-24 attack helicopter. The advanced model of the combat chopper includes new avionics and communications equipment, an improved tail rotor and a much more powerful engine.
Experts point out that the Hind E helicopter can carry round-the-clock missions, including in the dark. The new attack chopper has a good bit more fire power and notably improved overall performance. Of note, the Mi-35M is equipped with precision-guided Shturm and Ataka missiles.
Statement from knowledgeable Russian source
TASS quotes a knowledgeable Russian military source as saying “Following the results of the talks held earlier on helicopters, which Pakistan would like to get from Russia, a draft contract on the delivery of four Mi-35M gunships has been sent to the Pakistani side. Pakistan is now studying the document.”
The source continued to note “A substantial portion of technical and financial issues has been coordinated with [our] Pakistan[i] partners in the preparation of the helicopter deal. We do not see any insurmountable impediments to the conclusion of this contract. It may be signed already this year.”
Relations between Pakistan and Russia improving
Political analysts also highlight that Pakistan and Russia had signed a defense cooperation agreement strengthen military-to-military relations in back in November of 2014. That deal was followed up by another ‘technical cooperation agreement’ that set up the legal framework for the sale of military equipment to Pakistan.
It has also become clear over the last few months that Pakistan interested in other Russian military hardware besides the Hind E.
Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif spent about 15 hours at an arms expo in Moscow on Tuesday. The expo was displaying Russia’s newest cutting edge weapons and military equipment. Sharif not only viewed the weapon systems on display, but also observed a number of live demonstrations.
“The army chief spent whole of June 16 witnessing dynamic defence expo. Highly impressive display of all types of arms, aircraft, and helis,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted after the visit.
Russia continues aggression in Ukraine
Besides arms sales to Pakistan and many other countries, Russia continues to be an aggressor against its neighbor Ukraine, supplying large amounts of advanced military equipment to the rebels in Eastern Ukraine.
With large-scale Russian support, the Ukrainian rebels have managed to push back Ukraine’s forces and carve out about a quarter of the country as their new “republic”. The rebels control the areas around and between the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Military experts are very concerned about an imminent offensive in Eastern Ukraine as the Russian military has dramatically scaled up its supply of military hardware and troops to the rebels over the last couple of months. Analysts suggest that Putin and the rebels may make a move to take the port city of Mariupol and consolidate their gains.
Multiple sources have reported thousands of troops and hundreds of pieces of heavy military equipment have been seen passing the Ukrainian border. Reuters reporter Maria Tsetkova took photos of the deployment in late May. The Reuters report was backed up by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who recently commented that Russia had sent 250 aircraft as well as 700 pieces of heavy equipment including tanks and artillery to the Ukraine border supposedly as part of a military exercise.