Taiwan's Apache choppers to be commissioned July 11: defense ministry

2018/07/02 13:57:23 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) Taiwan's Army next week will officially commission all of its Apache attack helicopters purchased from the United States, having completed the necessary pilot training and verification of the fleet's combat capability, the defense ministry said Monday.

Nearly four years after taking delivery of the 30 Apaches, the Taoyuan-based Army Aviation and Special Forces Command will commission the fleet and the second of its two Apache squadrons on July 11, military spokesman Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said.

The first squadron was commissioned in June 2017 and now the entire Apache fleet and its pilots will be officially declared combat ready on July 11, he said.

Chen said he could not confirm whether President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) or representatives from the U.S. will attend the July 11 ceremony, as reported in the local media.

Taiwan purchased the 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters from the U.S. at cost of NT$59.31 billion (US$1.94 billion) in 2008, in a deal that included personnel training and logistics, and took delivery of the aircraft over the period November 2013 to October 2014.

One of the helicopters was wrecked in a crash during a training flight in Taoyuan in April 2014 and the other 29 have been allocated to the command's 601st Brigade.

The AH-64E, also known as the "tankbuster" or "tank killer," is equipped with powerful target acquisition radar that is capable of 360-degree operation to a range of 8 kilometers.

It can track over 128 targets simultaneously and sort out the 16 most dangerous ones and is also equipped with 16 Hellfire missiles that can be deployed in under 30 seconds, according to the command.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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