Ma lauds ROC-US ties upon Apache delivery
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
December 14, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday thanked the United States for its arms sales to Taiwan during a delivery ceremony for the first batch of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters that Taipei purchased from Washington.
“The Apache helicopter deal was sealed by both sides in 2008. Following years of preparations and personnel training, the first batch of six of the attack helicopters have finally arrived Taiwan and now make their debut in front of our countrypeople,” Ma said during the ceremony held at a military base in Tainan.
The arms deal is concrete evidence of the close collaboration and security partnership between Taipei and Washington, the president added.
Ma noted that as a sovereign state, the Republic of China must maintain a ready and capable force that can defend itself, and at the same time play a major role in helping to maintain regional security and peace.
The ceremony was also joined by Defense Minister Yen Ming (嚴明) as well as the U.S.' de facto ambassador to Taiwan, Christopher Marut, head of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan.
Following the ceremony, the military held a demonstration of the newly acquired attack helicopters. Two AH-64E Apache attack helicopters piloted by Taiwanese Army personnel performed a series of mid-air maneuvers in front of local media.
The U.S.-made helicopter, equipped with AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar, hovered and flew forward, backward and sideways before landing.
After the demonstration, Ma boarded one of the helicopters and was given a briefing by a pilot on the equipment and devices installed on the aircraft. He also wore a pilot's helmet and posed for photographs in the helicopter.
Helicopters to Boost Firepower
The six aircraft are part of an order of 30 choppers that Taiwan bought for NT$59.31 billion (US$2.01 billion) under a deal announced in 2008 by then-U.S. President George W. Bush. The total sum also includes outlays fro logistics, training and construction of a barracks area, the military said.
The aircraft are expected to greatly improve the mobility and firepower of Taiwan's military, according to the Defense Ministry.
The model E is the latest iteration in the Apache attack helicopter series.
The second batch of Apaches is scheduled to be delivered to Taiwan early next year, and the last batch by the end of 2014, the military said.
Taiwan sent more than 60 pilots and maintenance personnel to the U.S. to receive training on the advanced helicopters. All of the Taiwanese pilots have returned to serve as seed instructors.