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Taiwan receives six more Apache helicopters

KAOHSIUNG -- Six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters arrived in Taiwan on schedule yesterday, the second batch in a 30-helicopter deal with the United States.

The U.S.-made aircraft were shipped to a harbor in the southern city of Kaohsiung, from which they will be carried by truck to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in neighboring Tainan City for assembly, military officials said.

Taiwan spent more than US$2 billion on the model-E helicopters, the most advanced of the Apache series.

The first batch of six helicopters, delivered in early November, have been grounded for safety checks since Dec. 17 after a malfunction in a helicopter of the same model used by the U.S. Army.

No problems have been found in Taiwan's first six Apaches, but the newly delivered helicopters will still be grounded for safety checks, according to a military source familiar with the matter.

In the meantime, pilots at the Tainan base will continue to use simulated aircraft for training purposes, the source said.

Taiwan has not received any further information from the U.S. on the cause of the problem, Army Aviation Special Forces officials said.

The third, fourth and fifth batches of Apache helicopters are scheduled to arrive in March, May and July, respectively, the military source said.

Taiwan is the only country other than the U.S. to use the latest model of Apache helicopters known for their ground attack capability.

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An Apache helicopter is seen at the Port of Kaohsiung, yesterday. The second batch of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters yesterday arrived in the South Taiwan port. The helicopters will be transported on land to a base in Tainan for further assembling. The R.O.C. Army purchased a total of 30 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, the first batch of which arrived in November last year. (CNA)

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