The military has grounded the six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters acquired from the US and delivered last month after receiving notification of a malfunction of the same type of helicopter used by the US Army, officials said yesterday.
Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) made the remarks during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee yesterday in response to a question from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-jun (馬文君).
Lieutenant General Hau Yi-chih (郝以知), chief of staff of the army, said the military was notified on Tuesday of a main transmission failure in an AH-64E Apache helicopter being used by the US Army.
The US and Taiwan are the only two countries that use the latest model of the Apache helicopters.
Hau said that the army has suspended all of its Apache training operations pending a full investigation into the cause of the malfunction to be conducted by the US.
It was the first such problem faced by the new Apache helicopter since it was put into service by the US military earlier this year, a military source said.
Technical specialists from US-based aerospace company Boeing Co, which manufactures the Apache helicopters, are in Taiwan to help conduct the safety checks, the source said.
During the legislative hearing, Yen told lawmakers that the military would not have to pay for the checks or repairs based on the warranty that comes with the helicopters.
Taiwan held a delivery ceremony for the newly acquired Apache helicopters attended by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at an Army Aviation Special Forces base in Tainan on Friday last week.
The six Apaches, which arrived in Taiwan early last month, are part of a 30-helicopter package purchased by Taiwan at a cost of more than US$2 billion.
The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series.
The second batch of Apaches is scheduled to be delivered to Taiwan early next year and the final batch by the end of next year, the military said.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang