ISLAMABAD, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan is expected to receive maritime surveillance P3C Orion aircraft from the United States this year, state media quoted the country's ambassador in Washington as saying.
Ms. Sherry Rehman, who has been meeting with top American officials as part of efforts to restore the full range of bilateral ties, has said both the civil and defense cooperation between the two sides are gaining momentum, radio Pakistan reported on Monday.
Pakistan's Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafique, currently on a visit to the U.S., discussed matters related to ongoing cooperation between Pakistani and American navies and expressed satisfaction over senior level exchanges.
He expressed the hope for early departure of P3C maritime aircraft from the United States.
Pakistan had signed an agreement with the American defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin seven years ago, for the delivery of seven Orion aircrafts.
The Navy received three of the aircrafts in 2010, while another two were delivered in 2011. In addition to the Orions, the Navy is also operating seven aging Fokker F27-200 Friendship naval surveillance aircrafts, which it had acquired during the 1980s.
The Orions are one of the most popular maritime surveillance aircrafts in the world, being used by the naval forces in a number of nations such as the U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Brazil.
The aircrafts were first inducted into the U.S. Navy in 1962, and so far more than 750 units have been manufactured. The U.S. Navy had recently decided to replace its Orion fleet with the Boeing P-8A Poseidons.
Pakistani ambassador said that Pak-U.S. interactions are important to push forward Pakistan-U.S. bilateral defense ties and said the Pakistan Navy's key role in securing sea lanes in North Arabian Sea as part of the anti-piracy international coalition has been widely appreciated in the United States.
State media said that as a result of some hectic diplomacy, Washington and Islamabad have come out of a difficult phase in bilateral ties since early 2011, following a series of high-level meetings and trust-building measures.
The U.S. recently released long-delayed Coalition Support Fund reimbursements and both countries have resumed working on different levels of cooperation through regular forums of institutionalized dialogues and working groups.