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Apaches can take to the skies in Feb.

Taipei -- Taiwan is set to lift the grounding of its 12 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in February, more than a month after grounding the aircraft following a failure in the same model reported by the U.S. Army, a source in Taiwan's military said Monday.

The grounding of the Apaches is set to be lifted in mid-February once they have received new main transmission boxes, allowing Army Aviation Special Forces pilots to fly the helicopters, according to the source who asked not to be named.

The U.S. Army has also started replacing the main transmission boxes on its helicopters, the source said.

The main transmission boxes for the next three batches of helicopters set for delivery will be removed for further checks before they are shipped from the U.S., the source said.

Those shipments have been scheduled for March, May and July.

Taiwan grounded its first two batches of Apaches for safety checks after receiving word from the U.S. mid-December of a main transmission failure in one of the Apache AH-64Es in service in the U.S. Army.

No problems have been found in the helicopters already in Taiwan, however, the source said.

Though the helicopters have been grounded, ground and simulation training have continued, the source added.

Taiwan received its first batch of six Apache helicopters to a base in Tainan last November, followed by a second batch in early January.

The aircraft are part of a 30-helicopter package purchased from the United States at a cost of more than US$2 billion. The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series.

The U.S. and Taiwan are the only two countries that have used the latest Apache helicopter model so far.

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