Nepal | May 29, 2020

Two new Mi-17 choppers to boost NA’s air mobility

Lekhanath Pandey
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KATHMANDU: Two Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters are due to land in Kathmandu tomorrow, which will boost Nepali Army’s air mobility.
Defence Secretary Ishwori Prasad Poudyal confirmed that the choppers are due to land in Kathmandu tomorrow. A Russian cargo aircraft will bring the helicopters procured at a whopping of US$ 30 million (approximately Rs 3 billion).
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.
Nepali Army Spokesperson Brig Gen Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel said the arrival of two brand new twin-turbine transport choppers would strengthen NA’s air mobility. The NA has two similar choppers, one of which is in operation and another one has been grounded for maintenance.
“It will be a great advantage for Nepali Army’s immediate efforts towards rescue and relief missions and boost our air mobility capability,” Pokhrel added. The Nepali Army’s air mobility strength was severely tested during the search, rescue and relief operations after the earthquake.
“We had flight pilots, engineers and operation teams. But, we couldn’t take flights as much as we had wanted,” said a senior NA officer, referring to the lack of helicopters. “Now, we can handle more sorties as and when needed,” he added.
The two choppers that are set to arrive tomorrow are built in Kazan Helicopter Plant in Russia and can be used for both civil and military transportation purposes, a NA official said.
A Nepali Army team led by Maj Gen Satish Bikram Shah, Director General of Air Directorate of NA, last month visited Russia for initial acceptance and check-up of the condition of the twin-turbine transport helicopters. The team returned home after finalising the procurement deal last week.

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