KATHMANDU: The two brand new MI-17V-5 helicopters that Nepal Army recently bought from Russia have started their operation on Monday. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who looks after the Defence Ministry also, inaugurated the operation of NA-056 and NA-057 aircraft amid a formal function at the Nepal Army's Aviation Rotary Wing in the Tribhuvan International Airport. The helicopters were scheduled to fly to earthquake-hit Jharlang of Dhading district with relief materials along with the Prime Minister and other dignitaries who took part in the function, according to the NA. Earlier, a Nepali Army team led by Maj Gen Satish Bikram Shah, Director General of Air Directorate of NA, last month had visited Russia for initial acceptance and check-up of the condition of the twin-turbine transport helicopters. The NA has already conducted test flights and final delivery acceptance in Nepal also, on Friday. The Baburam Bhattarai-led coalition government in February 2013 had decided to release US$ 30 million to the Nepali Army to buy these helicopters. The amount then was equivalent to Rs 2.58 billion. It is the largest logistic purchase for the national force after Maoists joined the mainstream politics in November 2006, official said. The NA said the choppers with 2,000-hour flight capacity are also night vision compatible. Their cockpits are pilot-friendly and well equipped to conduct immediate embussing, debussing and evacuation. They are lighter in weight than choppers used by the NA currently and have an ultimate life of 25 years. A four-member Russian technical team will stay in Nepal to regularly examine the choppers till completion of one year or 300 flight hours, whichever is earlier. The two choppers are built in Kazan Helicopter Plant in Russia and can be used for both civil and military transportation purposes.