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Taiwan awaiting notice to lift Apache grounding

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan is still waiting for notice to be issued by the United States before lifting a grounding order on its AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, a senior Army official said yesterday.

Major General Wu Tien-an (吳天安) of the Army Command reported at a news briefing yesterday that all the AH-64E Apache attack helicopters Taiwan bought from the U.S. have been grounded for safety checks since Dec. 17, 2013, after a transmission malfunction was found in helicopters of the same model used by the U.S. military.

All the choppers' transmission systems of the same model have to undergo safety checks and await further notice from the U.S., Wu said.

So far Taiwan has not received information regarding the results of the U.S. safety checks, Wu said, adding that the Army is not sure when the AH-64E Apache fleet will resume normal operation.

Meanwhile, the Army said a total of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters have arrived in an Army base in the southern city of Tainan via land transportation early yesterday.

This is the second batch of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters that have arrived in Taiwan so far under a 30-helicopter arms deal announced in 2008 by then-U.S. President George W. Bush.

The first batch of six Apaches arrived in November 2013.

The remaining choppers are scheduled to arrive Taiwan on March, May and July in three batches, the Army said.

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An AH-64E Apache attack helicopter sits atop a trailer enshrouded in protective packaging to prevent damages during transit, yesterday in Kaohsiung. Following notice of a malfunction issued late last year by the helicopter's U.S.-based manufacturer, the military grounded all six recently-purchased Apaches. (CNA)

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