The United States has given Pakistan four Mi-17 transport helicopters. Pakistan already has over 80 of this model, but is always looking for more. This is especially the case as over a hundred thousand Pakistani troops are at war with Pushtun tribesmen along the Afghan border. Helicopters are an important factor in the army's success in that fight. The Pakistani army has a fleet of over 300 helicopters, including 28 AH-1 gunships and 35 UH-1 transports. But the Mi-17 is a favorite.
The Mi-17 is the export version of the Russian Mi-8, a twin-engine helicopter, roughly equivalent to the U.S. UH-1. But the Mi-8/17 is still in production and is the most widely exported (2,800 out of 12,000 made) helicopter on the planet. The Mi-8 is about twice the size and weight of the UH-1, but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo. However, the Mi-8 had a larger interior, and can carry 24 troops, versus a dozen in the UH-1. The UH-1 was replaced by the UH-60 in the 1980s, while the Mi-8 just kept adding better engines and electronics to the basic Mi-8 frame. But the UH-60, while weighing as much as the UH-1 (4.8 tons), could carry as much as the 12 ton Mi-8. But the Mi-8 costs about half as much as a UH-60, and the larger interior is popular with many users. Russia also offers lower rates for training pilots and mechanics.
The U.S. has access to Mi-17s because it has led the way in obtaining this model for Iraq and Afghanistan (both long time users of the Mi-17.)