Crash prompts Pak to return 'free' Mi-17 choppers to US

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Washington, Mar.19 (ANI): Pakistan has reportedly decided to return four Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters, which were given to it for free by the United States less than a year ago.

According to a Pentagon spokesperson, Islamabad has decided against keeping the helicopters, which were used extensively against extremists in the tribal regions, after one of them crashed in February killing at least one person on board.

"Pakistan has recently informed us of its intent to return the helicopters in accordance with the lease agreement," The AOL News quoted the spokesperson, as saying.

The transfer of helicopters to Pakistan was technically seen to be a lease agreement between Islamabad and Washington. However, Pakistan was not asked to pay for their use.

The chopper which crashed had a problem with the tail rotor. This accident prompted Pakistan to request that the leased helicopters, at least one of which was more than two decades old, be returned to the United States.

Pakistan's request to return the ageing choppers has also been confirmed by a US State Department spokesperson. He, however, denied to comment further on the issue and referred further queries to the Pentagon.

Pakistani Armed forces have had several crashes involving Russian helicopters in the past few years, including that of a Mi-17 accident which killed more than two dozen soldiers. (ANI)

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