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Six more Apache attack helicopters arrive in Kaohsiung

KAOHSIUNG -- Six Apache attack helicopters, the third batch of a 30-chopper package Taiwan purchased from the United States, arrived Tuesday in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, for unloading and assembly the following day.

The unloading procedure for the six AH-64E Apaches, including assembly and ground and air testing, would not begin until Wednesday because of the late hour of the shipment's arrival, said Fan Hui-kun, head of the Political Warfare Department at the Army Aviation Special Forces, which is in charge of the delivery.

After standard examinations and testing, the six helicopters will be flown to Guiren Military Base in Tainan, where their pilots will receive flight training.

It is the third shipment of a US$2 billion, 30-helicopter package. The first two batches were delivered in November last year and this January.

The Army said it has begun deploying the 12 Apache helicopters to an Army base in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan. All 30 helicopters will eventually be stationed at the Taoyuan base, 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 verification, 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 model.

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