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Taiwan set to receive 6 more Apache choppers today: military source

TAIPEI -- A shipment of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the United States is set to arrive in southern Taiwan Monday, and they will later be flown to a base in Tainan, according to a military source.

The Apaches are scheduled to arrive at Kaohsiung Harbor around mid-day Monday, and will be flown to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in the neighboring city of Tainan after passing initial checks, the source said.

This will be the third shipment of a 30-helicopter package that is costing Taiwan more than US$2 billion.

The Army said it has also begun deploying the 12 Apache helicopters Taiwan took delivery of to an Army base in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan. All 30 helicopters will be stationed at the Taoyuan base in the future, it added.

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 helicopters it received in November.

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

All 12 helicopters, however, have since been fitted with new main transmission boxes and were put back into service recently after completing test flights and safety verifications, according to an Army official.

The final two batches of six choppers will each be delivered with 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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