Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that United States should provide Pakistan with equipment for intelligence gathering so that Pakistan can effectively perform against the terrorist in the FATA region. He also said that FATA is the most difficult terrain to travel through and currently Pakistan army is facing huge mobility capability gap that needs to be addressed.
Currently Pakistan army uses the soft skin civilian vehicles which are targeted by the terrorists during the movements. Terrorists take advantage of the situation and ambush these soft skin vehicles which can’t protect the army personal inside. In past, such attacks have resulted in huge causalities on the security forces.
Pakistan army needs all-terrain vehicle offers high mobility and high protection Troop Carriers to launch and petrol in the hostile region of FATA. USA and NATO is using the Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV) in the Afghanistan and Iraq to protect its troop from the IED attacks and ambushes by the militants
US Marines have said that they estimate with the introduction of these Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV) casualties of US marines will be reduced by 80% in Iraq due to IED attacks. If Pakistan is provided with such Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV) it would not only reduce the high number of casualties suffered by the Pakistani security forces but also serve as a morale booster for the troops. Low causalities will also make operation more acceptable both for the Pakistan army and Pakistani government.
Second leg of this mobility gap is lacks of available helicopters due to lack of spare parts as well as long hour required to keep these old helicopters in air. Pakistan have very limited number of helicopter most of which are old Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopter which take much longer time in takeoff and landing when compared to their western counterparts.
These unarmed and unprotected helicopters prove easy target for the militants which take advantage of the situation and fire at the security force’s helicopters during this venerable time. To rectify the situation Pakistan army needs new helicopter that have better capability in this area as well as they will need modern gunship helicopters to clear out the landing area prior to the arrival of the Mi-17s and act as rear guard in takeoff situations.
Currently Pakistan army is using Vietnam era AH-1 Cobra helicopters which are very limited in numbers and spend most of their time at ground as they require lots of maintenance hours to keep them in air. Pakistan army have tried to push USA for new attack helicopter similar to the once already being used by the collation forces in Afghanistan but so far USA is unwilling to provide Pakistan with such helicopters.
USA feels that such helicopters can be used in conventional warfare so to protect Indian interests they have denied such Pakistani requests. While USA is unwilling to meet Pakistan’s legitimate requirements, USA is offering both AH-64D Apache Longbow and AH-1Z Viper to the Indian army for the heavy attack helicopter tender.