Tag Archives: Dhruv

To the rescue in Nepal

UPDATED 28 APRIL 2015 | The strong earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April 2015, with 7.8 on the Richter scale the country’s strongest in 80 years, has had nations scramble their resources to come to the rescue of the Himalayan state. Several countries have put part of their air forces on alert to dispatch aid and rescue / recovery teams to the areas hit.

As expected other Asian nations have responded fairly fast. According to sources in New Delhi the Indian Air Force have directed a pair of its ten Boeing C-17A Globemaster IIIs strategic airlifters to the rescue / recovery / repatriation effort, as well as a Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, an Ilyushin IL-76 and a pair of Mil Mi-17 helicopters. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is sending three of its ten Hercules aircraft; the Pakistan Air Force sent four of its 18 C-130s and the Royal Thai Air Force committed Hercs as well. Qatar dispatched two civilian Qatar Airways Cargo Airbus A330 to Kathmandu. China sent its rescue team on an Air China Airbus A330.

Archive photo of a Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130 taking off from Male at the Maldives in May 2007 (Image (CC) DD, Male, Maldives)
Archive photo of a Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130 taking off from Male at the Maldives in May 2007 (Image (CC) DD, Male, Maldives)

Sweden initially committed a team of 72 men and women plus 12 dogs to help Nepalese authorities in the search for survivors and recovery efforts, but later decided to send 30 people and no dogs on board a civilian freighter. The team has enough supplies and essentials to be self-sufficient for two weeks and left Örebro Airport in the centre of the country at around 21:20 local time on Monday 27 April. Earlier it was thought that the bigger team would go on one of the EU/NATO’s three C-17A Globmasters based at Papa Airbase in Hungary. Sweden is one of the main users of this small pool of European airlift.

A Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10. More is here. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The Netherlands sent a Urban Search and Rescue team of 62 men/women and 8 dogs to the area, using a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) KDC-10. The team will depart the Netherlands on Sunday evening. Five tonnes of aid accompanies the team on board the RNLAF aircraft. The UK is sending a C-17 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules, while the US  has ordered a C-17 with 70 disaster assistance personnel and 45 square tonnes of cargo to the region.

Nepal Army Air Wing
The resources of Nepal itself are spread thin. The Nepal Army Air Wing only has a few air assets available. The fixed wing fleet consists of two Antonov AN-28 light transport aircraft, a Britten Norman BN-2 Islander utility aircraft and a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 transport aircraft.

It was daring move by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), designing and building its own utility helicopter; the Dhruv ('Polaris'). This Indian army Dhruv is seen doing a display for potential buyers. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Made in and delivered by India: the Nepal Army Air Wing operates four Dhruvs similar to this Indian Army example (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A quartet of Indian-made HAL Dhruv, four Alouette IIIs and five Mil Mi-17 “Hip” make up the mainstay of the rotary wing. It is complemented by a Eurocopter (Airbus Helicotpers) AS350 Écureuil and two Aérospatiale SA315 Alouette IIs/Lamas. A bigger Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) AS332 Puma is configured for VIP flights. The Nepal Army has only one main base of operations, part of Kathmandu Airport, but there are at least 36 airfields spread across the country that can be used for air operations.

It is not known if and how many aircraft in Nepal have been damaged by the earthquake. Private rotary wing is available as well, but we have no numbers at this time.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The third Boeing C-17 Globemaster III for the Indian Air Force leaving the factory plant at Long Beach for India at August 20th, 2013 (Image © Boeing)

The Chinese rescue response team to the 25 April 2015 Earthquake in Nepal arrived on board an Air China Airbus A330, similar to this one (Image (CC) Kentaro Ieomoto)
The Chinese rescue response team to the 25 April 2015 Earthquake in Nepal arrived on board an Air China Airbus A330, similar to this one (Image (CC) Kentaro Ieomoto)

Nepalese Army buys 2 Mi-17s

Archive photo of a Mil Mi-17 (Hip) (Image © Russian Helicopters)
Archive photo of a Mil Mi-17 (Hip) (Image © Russian Helicopters)

The Nepalese Army buys 2 additional Mi-17V5 tactical transport helicopters from the Russian state-owned arms export company Rosoboronexport, a spokesperson of the armed forces of the small Asian state said to the Himalayan Times.

The deal is said to have been concluded on 19 December 2013 and had been approved by the Nepalese parliament in advance. The armed forces of Nepal already operate three Mi-17s (one of them has reg. nr. NA-038). The new helicopters will like be painted in a overall standard single dark green colour.

From its sole airbase in Kathmandu the Nepal Army Air Wing flies a very mixed fleet of mainly helicopters including a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) license-built SA316B Chetaka (Alouette III with registration NA-029), a Aérospatiale SA330J Puma (reg. NA-028), a Aérospatiale AS332 Super Puma (VIP) and reportedly also a pair of HAL Dhruv.

Two PZL M28 Skytruck (NA-041 and NA-048) light transport aircraft are the main fixed wing assets of the Nepalese armed forces, with the current status of the two Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders in Nepalese service unknown. The largest airplane in the inventory is a still airworthy Hawker Siddeley HS748 (NA-020).

Officially Nepalese military aircraft have between 30 and 36 airstrips throughout the country available for operations, but none of them has aircraft permanently assigned to them.

Source: Himalayan Times with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger