NA gets two trainer aircraft
By Purushottam P. Khatri
Kathmandu, Mar.19: Nepali Army (NA) has been backing up its air-based strength and efficiency to combat all types of rescue operations and possible mega scale disasters, according to the army headquarters.
Efforts towards these directions were being realised as the NA has, of late, been purchasing and receiving assistance of various kinds and capacities of choppers and aircraft from abroad.
Very lately, the NA has added four choppers and aircraft in its fleet.
A few months ago, the NA had brought two helicopters – Agusta and Bell -- among them, Agustawestland is meant only for the VVIPs, including the President.
According to Brigadier General and spokesperson at the Army Headquarters Yam Prasad Dhakal, very recently two extra trainers’ light aircraft have also been brought to Nepal for the use of NA.
“These two trainer aircraft have just arrived here and its formal opening or checking its specification is yet to be completed, Brigadier Dhakal told The Rising Nepal during a meeting.
He informed that six other aircraft were on the pipelines of purchase; and they would be bought on the phase wise basis.
As of March 12, the NA has altogether 16 aircraft, including helicopters, sky trucks and other light aircraft.
Among the total aircraft, 10 of them are currently in operation, five are under maintenance, and one has gone non-functioning. These also included the recently purchased aircraft.
In absence of reliable VIP serving helicopters, the NA has been using MI-17 helicopter, which has a capacity to carry 32 passengers, for the VIP flight.
Earlier, the white-coloured Bell helicopter had been in operation to conduct the VIP flight, especially of the President across the country. But at present, the helicopter has been in operation under the President Safe Motherhood programme for airlifting delivering women from remote areas.
In place of the Bell helicopter, the government had already purchased and made readied another new brand Agustawestland helicopter for the President and to conduct any other VVIP flight and disaster response. The helicopter was purchased at the cost of Rs. 1.5 billion.
Of the four helicopters included in the purchasing list of the NA, two helicopters, one Agusta and another Bell, are yet to be arrived in Nepal.
“The NA plans to increase the number of aircraft to 31 by 2025,” he said.
Among others, the army plans to station 13 aircraft at its central airbase, eight in its western air base, four at its eastern air base and two others at its aviation training base.