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June 22, 2017

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Grounding of Apache helicopters to be lifted next week

TAIPEI -- Taiwan will begin putting its 12 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters back into service next week, nearly two months after it grounded the aircraft when notified by the United States of a failure in the same model.

"The grounding of the Apaches is set to be lifted Feb. 11," said a Taiwanese military source yesterday.

Army Aviation Special Forces pilots will be able to fly the helicopters once the choppers are fitted with new main transmission boxes, according to the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Army will finish replacing the transmission boxes on the 12 helicopters by the end of this month, the source said, but those choppers whose transmission boxes have already been replaced and tested will go into service on Feb. 11.

The 12 aircraft are part of a 30-helicopter package ordered from the United States in June 2011 at a cost of more than US$2 billion. The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series.

Taiwan received its first delivery of six Apache helicopters last November followed by a second batch in early January.

The 12 helicopters Taiwan has received so far were grounded after it received word from the U.S. in 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 so far in the helicopters received in Taiwan, but the transmissions are still being replaced as a precaution, the source said.

Even as the helicopters were kept out of service, ground and simulation training has continued, army officers have said.

The final three batches of six choppers will be delivered to Taiwan with the new transmission boxes later this year and are scheduled to arrive in March, May and July, respectively, the source said.

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

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