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Army's Apache chopper arrives in Taoyuan

TAIPEI--An AH-64E Apache attack helicopter was flown to an army base in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan, where it will be stationed, the Army said Thursday, after Taiwan's 12 AH-64Es were put back into service last week.

The chopper arrived at the Taoyuan base after flying for over an hour from an army aviation special forces base in Tainan, southern Taiwan, an Army official said on condition of anonymity.

“We plan to fly all of the Apache choppers to the Taoyuan base by the end of next week,” the official said.

The 12 aircraft are part of a 30-helicopter order from the U.S. that is costing Taiwan more than US$2 billion. All 30 of the choppers will be stationed at the Taoyuan base, the official said.

The process of taking delivery of the helicopters has not been without snags. Taiwan was notified by the U.S. in mid-December of a main transmission failure on an Apache AH-64E in service in the U.S., forcing Taiwan to ground the first six it received in November.

The second batch had also been grounded since its arrival in Taiwan in early January.

All 12 have been fitted with new main transmission boxes and were put back into service last week after completing test flights and safety verification, the official said.

The third batch, which is being shipped to Taiwan, is scheduled to arrive in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, around March 16, the Army said.

The final two batches of six choppers each will be delivered with the new transmissions later this year and are expected to arrive in May and July, respectively, the official said.

The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series. The U.S. and Taiwan are the only two countries that use the latest Apache helicopter model so far.

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An AH-64E Apache prepares to take off and return to its base in Taoyuan, yesterday. The Army has confirmed that after further tests, at least one unit from the grounded fleet has returned to its base in Taoyuan from Tainan earlier yesterday. (CNA)

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