4 March 2019: Pentagon has contracted two M28 Skytruck aircraft for Nepali Army with a view to enhance its “air capability”.
Both will be brand new planes straight from the factory of a leading Polish aircraft manufacturer. According to the US Department of Defense, work will be completed by 20 December this year following which the aircraft will be ferried to Kathmandu.
A spokesperson at the Directorate of Public Relations and Information of the Nepali Army told southasia.com.au that the US will be providing the two aircraft “as an assistance to enable Nepali Army’s air capability”. The two planes will be put to a variety of military operations including for “humanitarian works”, Nepali Army said.
The South Asian nation will receive the M28s as part of US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract which is “a fundamental tool of US foreign policy”.
In a recent press release, the US Department of Defense announced that it has already contracted the biggest aircraft manufacturer in Poland, Polskie Zaklady Lotnicze, to build and supply the two aircraft to the Nepali Army.
“This contract provides for two new, commercially produced, M28 Block 05 aircraft, associated initial aircraft and maintenance training, technical publications, and ferry flight service for the M28 Block 05 aircraft from Mielec, Poland, to Kathmandu, Nepal,” reads the press release issued by the US Department of Defense.
M28 Skytruck is a Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) aircraft with two engines. It can be easily reconfigured allowing the army to use the aircraft for a variety of missions. M28 is a trusted aircraft that can operate in extreme conditions and is valued for its mission applicability and robustness.
The Nepali Army is not new to M28 Skytruck. It had purchased one unit from the same Polish company back in 2004 when it was in the middle of a protracted, bloody war with Maoist rebels.