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​USA funds pair of M28 Skytrucks for Nepal

The USA is providing financial backing of $19 million for a pair of Mielec M28 Block 50 utility transports that will be delivered to Nepal.

“This contract involves foreign military financing to Nepal,” says a recent US Defence Department statement.

“This award is the result of a country-directed sole-source acquisition. Foreign military financing funds in the full amount are being obligated at the time of award.”

The aircraft will be produced by Mielec, Poland. The package includes a ferry flight to Kathmandu, training, and technical publications.

PZL Mielec is a unit of helicopter maker Sikorsky, which is in turn of unit of Lockheed Martin.

Cirium's Fleets Analyzer shows that the Nepal Army Air Wing already has a single M28 (NA-041) that is 16.3 years of age. Nepal formerly operated two examples, but one crashed while attempting to land at Bajura on 30 May 2017.

The aircraft, operating a flight from Surkhet to Simikot, had diverted due to strong winds, but overran Bajura’s 573m runway on landing and overturned in a rice paddy. According to the airport manager, as reported in the press, the aircraft landed long, not touching down until “nearly halfway down the runway.”

It overran through the airport perimeter fence before eventually coming to rest some 60m beyond the end of the runway. One person was killed and the other two on board were injured.

Featuring rear cargo doors, the short take-off and landing type can transport a payload of up to 2,300kg (5,000lb), or up to 19 passengers in a transport configuration. It is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65B turboprops.

Fleets Analyzer shows that there are 76 M28s in service with 16 operators globally. Major operators include the Polish Air Force (23), the Polish Navy (11), the Venezuelan army (11), and Venezeuelan National Guard (11).

Nepal is one of three Asia-Pacific operators, alongside the Vietnamese air force and the Indonesian police, which each operate one.

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