As per the highly placed source, Nepalese Army (NA) has purchased one AgustaWestland’s AW139 Helicotper. The helicopter presently has been spotted flying at the Milan Area acquiring test registration ‘I-EASY’- C/N 31808 with its official Army Livery; National flag on the fin, six-sided red star bearing a yellow trident on the fuselage.
The AW139 Chopper delivery date has not been disclosed now but the another European made H125 Helicopter which is also been purchased by NA is presently at Airbus Helicopter Facility, Singapore and is expected to join the Mid Air Base, 11 No Brigade, TIA by second week of July. The chopper has been allocated with Nepalese Army registration ‘NA-059’.
Although the government had decided on July last year to purchase three helicopters–one medium and two lights–for disaster response and rescue operations, the purchase of medium-size twin-engine helicopters has been put off as the price ceiling exceeded an earlier deal.
On July 2016, the immediate Defense Ministry Spokesperson had vowed that the cabinet had decided to begin the procurement process citing an immediate need of helicopters for the ceiling fixed earlier Nepalese Army. But after the Nepalese Army came up with a price that exceeded and couldn’t even meet the requirements sought, he added. As per the government decision, the Ministry of Defense had allocated Rs 3 billion for helicopters purchase.
Defense ministry officials said that the government has recently purchased two Helicopter one H125 (AS350 B3e) Airbus Helicopter and One AgustaWestland’s AW139 but NA has also recommended for Bell 407 GXP.
The Nepalese Army is also progressive to induct three fixed winged aircraft, two Piper Archer general training aircraft from Piper Aircraft, Inc. USA and a CN235-220M Multipurpose aircraft from Indonesian aerospace manufacturer PT Dirgantara (PTDI). The Piper Archer aircraft is anticipated to join NA fleet by Ashadh, 2075, Directorate of Public Relations and Information (DPR), Army Headquarter confirmed.
This is the very first time that the AW139 is entering Nepalese Airspace but previously, Altitude Air, a private heli-charter company had bought Leonardo Helicopter/Augusta Westland Koala AW119 chopper manufactured on United States first time ever in Nepal for the demonstration flight of Augusta Westland Koala AW119 to check the performance of chopper in High Altitude at Himalaya Kingdom.
The AW139 delivers best-in-class performance with a maximum cruise speed of 165 knots (306 kph), a range in excess of 500 nm (927 km), endurance of 5 hours and superior hover performance in hot conditions. It also has the largest cabin in its class, which can accommodate up to 15 passengers. The unobstructed cabin design allows maximum flexibility for different seating configurations and the transport of equipment. The baggage compartment provides a massive 3.4 cubic meters (120 cubic feet) of storage which is easily accessible from both the cabin and outside the helicopter.
Nepalese Army Aviation currently owns 10 aircraft which includes four MI-17, two Bell 206, two Écureuils and one Islander and one PZL M28 Sky truck. The defense force has recently sold its two Aérospatiale AS-332L-1 Super Puma an advanced chopper for VIPs to China.