Nepal, US armies to talk next weekAmong other things, the meeting will discuss military hardware for the Nepal Army.
Nepal and the United States are holding the annual Land Force Talks in Kathmandu next week.
This follows Nepal's refusal to participate in the American State Partnership Program (SPP). A Cabinet meeting on Monday gave Nepal Army the go-ahead to conduct the Land Force Talks with the US Army. This is the fourth such meeting where the armies of Nepal and the US will discuss military and defence cooperation.
Nepal Army spokesperson Brig Gen Krishna Prasad Bhandari said that the meeting will discuss disaster response, relief, preparedness, US assistance for Nepal Army personnel deployment and various peacekeeping missions, among others. A Nepali major general and his American counterpart will lead the respective sides in the talks.
According to Bhandari, the meeting will be held from March 27 to 29 in Kathmandu.
Over one-and-a-half dozen officials from Nepal and the US will be participating in the talks focussed on capability enhancement of Nepali peacekeepers, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, force professionalisation and experience sharing between the two militaries.
The meeting will also discuss military and defence activities and priorities of Nepal and the US, a government official said. Nepal in June last year refused to be a part of the SPP.
The meeting will also discuss the military hardware to be provided to the Nepal Army. During the third meeting of the Nepal-US Land Force Talks in Hawaii in March last year, the US side had asked Nepal to sign the SPP, offering military assistance under the programme.
Separately, Nepal Army has also sent a list of its requirements as per the US pledge for two sky trucks. The Americans have also offered to supply US-made Bell helicopters in the context of Nepal’s preparations to buy two MI-17 helicopters from Russia.
Last year, “they discussed confirming priorities and exploring new opportunities for further collaboration, leading to improved efficiency through greater information sharing in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to a statement issued by the US.
The US is going to provide two M28 block 05 Skytrucks to Nepal. The Aerospace manufacturer Polish PZL Mielec has won a $30.4 million contract to provide the light transport aircraft to the Army’s air wing.
The order is expected to be processed by April 30, 2025.
This contract involves two new, commercially produced M28 Block 05 aircraft, associated aircraft training, spares package, medical equipment, six months of field representative services, and ferry flight service for the M28 Block 05 aircraft from Mielec, Poland, to Kathmandu, according to reports.
The aircraft were ordered under a US Foreign Military Financing programme.
The M28 Skytruck is capable of high-altitude short take-off and landing, and is said to be ideal for Nepal’s high altitude short runways, as it requires less than 500m of runway length.
The aircraft were procured to replace the sole M28 previously operated by the Nepal Army’s air wing, which was donated by the Polish Air Force in 2004 and which crashed in 2017.
In 2019, the US also bought an M28 Skytruck for Nepal under a $19-million agreement.
Starting from 2016, Nepal has been making efforts to acquire six M28 Skytrucks or C-145 airframes, with US support.
The Land Force Talks, the highest engagement between Nepal and the US Army, were constituted in June 2018.