WASHINGTON: The US State Department has approved the sale of 160 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, spare and repair parts to Pakistan for an estimated cost of $198 million, said a press release issued by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency on Friday.
The state department's nod comes as Pakistan is engaged in Operation Zarb-i-Azb, a full-blown military offensive in the northwestern tribal region of North Waziristan, and has also begun action against insurgents in Khyber Agency.
According to the release, the government of Pakistan had requested to purchase 160 Navistar MRAP vehicles, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and equipment training, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.
The Defence Security Cooperation Agency of the US has delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible sale, whose principal contractor will be Navistar Defence Corporation in Madison Heights, Michigan.
The US says there will be no adverse impact on its own defence readiness as a result of this sale, nor will the basic military balance in the region be affected. Instead, the sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States “by helping to improve the security of a country vital of US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia”.
There are also no known offset agreements proposed in the connection with this potential sale, the press release stated.
The US government will be required to send two government and 24 contractor representatives to Pakistan for a period of approximately 18 months to perform inspections, provide assistance, conduct training and maintain accountability of the provided material.
Reports of Pakistan’s likelihood of receiving MRAP vehicles began to surface in March this year with the idea regarded as part of an effort by the Pentagon to unload excess military supplies to US allies.
Pakistani and American officials have been in discussions on the issue over several months and the latest nod from the US comes as the war in Afghanistan is winding down.