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Army to lift grounding order on Apache helicopters after CNY

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The R.O.C. Army yesterday said that it is scheduled to lift the existing grounding order for its American-imported AH-64E Apache attack helicopters next month.

The Army's comments came more than a month after it announced its decision to ground the choppers following a failure in the same model reported by the U.S. Army.

The Army Aviation Special Forces Command yesterday said the grounding of the Apaches is set to be lifted in mid-February following the six-day Chinese New Year holiday that runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, once they replace the main transmission boxes.

So far, the command has received several batches of new main transmission boxes and has installed them in half of the 12 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

Taiwan received its first batch of six AH-64E Apache choppers in December 2013, part of a 30-helicopter package purchased from the United States at a cost of more than US$2 billion and approved by former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2008.

The first six helicopters of have been grounded for safety checks since Dec. 17 after a malfunction was detected in helicopters of the same model used by the U.S. Army.

The Army received its second batch of another six choppers of the same model earlier this month and these aircraft have been grounded as well.

Though the helicopters have been grounded, the command said the ground and simulation training have continued and will not stop until Jan. 23, when Army pilots begin to take Chinese New Year leaves.

The pilots will resume regular training sessions on Feb. 9, the command said.

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