Nepal Army Air Wing
By Stefan Goossens
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal This asian country is landlocked by China and India. The country hosts eight of the ten highest peaks in the world (including the Mount Everest). Despite its strategic position the country has never faced territorial threats from its neighbours. The number of people active in the service has therefore always been relatively small.
The country has no separate Air Force but flies several aircraft within the 11th Brigade, also known as the Nepal Army Air Wing (established in 1979) as part of the Army. The main objective of this flying element is transport, flying paratroopers and assistance in case of an emergency (e.g. natural disasters). Apart from the 11th Brigade the country has established a VIP Flight. All aircraft are stationed at Kathmandu-Tribhuvan.
Scattered around the country are 36 airfields that are able to support military operations. Many of them are configured only for short take-off and landing operations.
Since 1996 the country iwas facing attacks by Maoist rebels trying to overthrow the constitutional monarchy and establishing a communist republic. Their attacks have increased since the massacre within the Royal Family in 2001. This development has led to the need for armed helicopters. In recent years several types of aircraft have entered service; Mi-17s, M28 Skytruck, ALH Lancer and Dhruv. The UK has delivered two Islanders and two Mi-17s free off charge.
Early 2005 King Gyanendra seized power by declaring a state of emergency (directly disarming the parliament). As a consequence of this move many countries suspended their aid to the country, with China entering with military and civilian aid. Protest from within the country have lead to reinstituting the parliament.
On 28 May 2008 the Kingdom was formally changed into a Federal Republic. Apart from many other things thas has led to the name of the army being changed from Royal Nepal Army to Nepal Army.
Initially all Army air assets were registered in the civilian looking 9N-RFxx range, that then changed into 9N-RAxx. With the renumbering to RAN-xx only the VVIP helicopters were left in this serial range. Following the formation of the Republic RAN-xx was renumbered into RA-0xx
The Armed Police Force Nepal does not own aircraft or helicopters.