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Swiss give helicopters to Pakistan

Switzerland is giving its last Alouette III helicopters to Pakistan to help in flood rescue work, the government announced on Wednesday.

The helicopters were due to be taken out of service at the end of the year, but the first will now be sent to Pakistan later this month, delivered by cargo planes of the Pakistan air force.

The Swiss government decided in August to give Pakistan the three machines which were already out of operation, but it has now decided to give the remaining seven as well.

The machines are old, and of no further use in Switzerland.

Pakistan has signed a commitment not to arm the helicopters and to use them only for search and rescue. The Alouettes are not subject to the Swiss law governing arms exports.

Even before the current floods, Pakistan had signalled its interest in buying the Swiss Alouettes, since it already has a small fleet used for rescues in disaster relief operations.

In view of the size of the current flood disaster, Switzerland is giving the helicopters free of charge.

Switzerland is replacing its Alouettes with the Eurocopter EC635, which came into service at the end of 2009.

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