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To boost ties, Modi presents advanced chopper to Nepal

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi presents the model of a chopper to his Nepali counterpart Sushil Koirala during the presentation ceremony of a chopper to Nepal army in Kathmandu on Tuesday. PTI Photo

KATHMANDU (PTI): Showing India's commitment to strengthening ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday handed over to Nepal an Advanced Light Helicopter which will be used for military and civilian operations.

Modi handed over the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mark III Dhruv to Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sushil Koirala at a special function in the Nepal Army pavilion here ahead of the 18th SAARC summit beginning on Wednesday.

"This will add to Nepal's shield of protection," Modi said at the event.

The chopper was handed over by the Indian government to Nepal as per an agreement reached under the Bilateral Consultative Group Meeting.

Manufactured by state-owned aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the Mark III is the latest version of the original Dhruv helicopter and comes equipped with Shakti engines, new electronic warfare suite and warning systems, automatic chaff and flare dispensers and improved vibration control system.

The chopper is piloted by two persons and has the capacity to carry 14 passengers. The test flight of the chopper was carried out by the Indian Army in 1992 and it had been used by the Indian Army since 2012. It can safely fly over 20,000 feet in the sky.

The helicopter, which can cost anywhere between Rs 60-80 crore, is currently exported to at least three other countries, including the Maldives and Ecuador.

"As India is imparting military training and providing physical equipments to the Nepal Army... the helicopter gifted will certainly strengthen the humanitarian assistance and natural disaster relief programme being carried out by Nepal Army," the Nepalese Army said in a statement.

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