Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-01 05:41 PM
On December 17, manufacturer Boeing Defense and Space Industries informed the Army of a transmission failure problem which led to the immediate grounding of the first six of the 30 attack helicopters bought from the US.
The first six arrived in Taiwan in November and were officially inaugurated at a Tainan army base on December 13, just days before the technical issues arose.
The second batch of six will arrive at Kaohsiung harbor on Thursday afternoon and be transferred to the Kueijen Army Base in Tainan, the military said.
Because they left the US before the grounding and because no new messages were received about a solution, the new craft will immediately be subjected to inspections and will not be allowed to fly, according to the military. Training using simulation on the ground will proceed as normal though.
The next batches of six helicopters each are scheduled to arrive in Taiwan in March, May and July respectively, reports said.
The whole Apache deal was worth NT$59.31 billion (US$2 billion) and formed part of a US$6.4 billion (NT$189 billion) arms package announced in 2008. The contract also included 1,000 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and 66 Hellfire Longbow missile launchers.
The new helicopter was praised by commentators as an effective force against tanks and armored people carriers, eventually after an invasion. Taiwan was reportedly the first country outside the US to be entrusted with using the aircraft.
The Apache joined the Bell 60 AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters which Taiwan purchased in 1990.
The new helicopters were seen as a necessary counterweight to China’s rapid military modernization. The Apaches feature sophisticated communications systems, including the reported ability to control drones.
There was no clear answer yet as to when the US would work out the technical problems with the helicopters, military sources said.