KATHMANDU, Dec 22: Although the government had decided last July to purchase three helicopters--one medium and two light--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.
According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Uttam Prasad Nagila, the cabinet in July had decided to begin the procurement process citing an immediate need of helicopters for the Nepal Army. But after the Nepal Army came up with a price that exceeded the ceiling fixed earlier and couldn't even meet the requirements sought, he added. However he was not able to make public what the price ceiling is.
Soon after the government's decision to purchase helicopters in July, the government had decided to provide Rs 20 billion to the Nepal Army to enhance its capacity on the condition that it spend the amount in three years.
As per the government decision, the Ministry of Defense had allocated Rs 3 billion for helicopters purchase.
According to NA sources, Nepal Army had proposed to buy a medium-size helicopter offering three options -- Bell's 412 EPI, Airbus's EC175 and AgustaWestland's AW139. Similarly, Nepal Army had proposed to buy light helicopters and offered two options--Airbus AS350 B3e and Bell 407 GXP.
Defense ministry officials said that the government has given its consent to purchase Airbus AS250 B3e but NA had recommended Bell 407 GXP.
Bell is an American firm, Airbus is French company with its production in several European countries, and Agusta is an Italian helicopter manufacturing company.
Nepal Army sources said that they would revise the procurement process for medium-size helicopter and propose the government again as soon as possible.