On Wednesday, the Federal Council decided to transfer for free to Pakistan the last ten Alouette III helicopters that are currently still in possession of the Air Force. These helicopters, which were due for decommissioning in late 2010, will instead be used for Search And Rescue operations. Pakistan has signed a binding agreement in this regard.
After the decision of the Federal Council on 18 August 2010 to provide Pakistan with three Alouette IIIs which have already been retired from service, it has now been agreed that the seven other helicopters of that type that the Air Force no longer needs will be transferred to Pakistan by the end of the year.
The first Alouette III will be flown to Pakistan in September aboard a Pakistan Air Force transport aircraft.
To replace the Alouette III, Switzerland has acquired new Eurocopter EC635 light helicopters for transport and training that have been in service since late 2009. The ten remaining Alouette III helicopters of the Swiss Air Force will be withdrawn from service by the end of the year due to their obsolescence. They have lost relevance in Switzerland and must therefore be disposed of.
The Pakistani government has for some time given Switzerland to understand that it was interested in obtaining those helicopters. Pakistan already operates a small fleet of helicopters used for search and rescue and disaster assistance. Given the context of the current catastrophe in which helicopters are an essential tool, the Federal Council has decided to give the remaining helicopters to Pakistan free of charge.
The Alouette III helicopters do not belong to the category of military equipment nor to that of dual-use technology assets. They are therefore subject neither to the law on war materiél exports nor to export controls.
The Pakistani government has also pledged in writing not to equip these aircraft with any weapons (which would not be feasible from a technical point of view) and use them only for search and rescue purposes.