First U.S. helicopters arrive in Kathmandu to help with Nepal quake relief and recovery

A few days ago, after seeing a BBC story that explained Nepal’s desperate need for helicopters, we posted a short editorial here urging the Obama administration to start sending aircraft and aircrew to the disaster-stricken nation, which is recovering from a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks.

And thankfully, that’s just what the administration is doing.

The Air Force and Marines are working in tandem to bring U.S. air support to Nepal. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transports were able to get into Kathmandu’s congested and quake-damaged airport after a delay, allowing Marines to start unloading UH-1 Iroquois helicopters. (The UH-1, more popularly known as the Huey, is a battle-tested chopper that saw extensive service in Vietnam.)

Their logistical prowess was witnessed by a group of Chinese troops, who took pictures and appeared to be impressed. The Huey, which is a light helicopter, can get in and out of places other choppers can’t, so it is a good choice for this mission.

Not long after, a squadron of V-22 Ospreys showed up. The Osprey is an impressive tiltrotor aircraft with versatile capabilities, including the ability to take off and land vertically. Ospreys are operated both by the Air Force and by the Marine Corps.

Nepal is pretty mountainous country, which makes operating helicopters there challenging, but adapting to unusual and difficult conditions is what our soldiers, sailors, and aircrew train for, after all.

Hopefully, these aircraft will be followed by more. Nepal’s need is great, and the country’s disaster recovery efforts could certainly benefit from our airpower.