Nepal: May 29, 2002


Nepal is currently seeking night-vision equipped helicopter gunships capable to help in the battle against Maoist rebels who usually launch their raids under cover of darkness. Junior Home (Interior) Minister Devendra Raj Kandel told Reuters on the 26th that the Himalayan kingdom is planning to buy two such gunships.  Nepal received two Indian-made "Cheetah" helicopter gunships and weapons in December 2001. The army has also been thinking about trading an existing Super Puma (valued at $5 million) for four second-hand reconditioned Mi-24 gunships at $1 million each. The 4 May Washington Times reported that Nepal's wish list included a dozen Mi-17s and two fixed-wing short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) transport planes, as well as communications equipment and night-vision gear. The Interior Ministry currently has a tender out for a Russian-made MI-17 transport helicopter. Nepal has 36 airstrips and airfields (many capable only of STOL operations) while all of the military aircraft from the Nepal Air Battalion are based at Kathmandus Tribhuvan Airport. According to , as of 31 March 2002 the Nepalis had at least 8 Alouette 3s and two Mi-17s. - Adam Geibel


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