Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba forced the cabinet to approve the decision to purchase a new aircraft for the army on 21 February, which has created a stir in the ranks. Officials say the cabinet has decided to buy an aircraft called the Sky Truck. The prime minister himself proposed-and pressured-the cabinet to approve the deal involving the Polish-made 18-19 seat aircraft. Just 26 of the craft have been produced so far, and only some former Soviet states have bought them. The European Commission does not approve the aircraft. The proposal was made soon after Deuba took office, coming through Ms Arzoo Deuba and her brother, who runs a finance company. [On Sunday Ms Deuba categorically denied the association, asserting that she had no say in the decision-making process and that she was ready to be "hanged in public" if there was any truth in the allegations.] The army's airborne unit (the 11th Battalion) is said to have earlier ruled that the aircraft is unsuited to conditions in Nepal. After Deuba, who is also defence minister, managed to get the cabinet to approve the decision, he put pressure on the 11th Battalion, which then retracted its earlier conclusion and has apparently submitted a recommendation approving the aircraft. The aircraft allegedly costs $3.5 million (Rs 273 million), and on adding various options, this goes up to $4 million, a price believed to be about a million dollars higher than the craft's real cost.
(Deshanter also carried a report, saying: "The cabinet approved the purchase of two Sky Truck aircraft last Thursday [21 February]. The aircraft is to be purchased at $4 million, but aviation experts say it does not cost more than $3 million. .Security sources said the aircraft cannot land on any airstrip suitable even for a Twin Otter, and is too narrow to transport goods. The aircraft in question has not been approved by either the US or the British regulators. Our sources tell us the government decided soon after the emergency that the army could immediately hire any fixed wing aircraft it needed. The army has more pressing needs now: night vision binoculars and other logistics. For three months the soldiers on the ground have not even had a change of boots.")