Wed, Jul 18, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Apaches key to ‘multiple deterrence’

COMBAT READY:It took almost five years for the army to complete the required training for its pilots, ground crews and logistics personnel, President Tsai Ing-wen said

Staff writer, with CNA

Helicopter pilot Major Yang Yun-hsuan salutes in front of an Apache AH-64E attack helicopter at the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade’s full combat readiness ceremony at the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command’s base in Taoyuan yesterday.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The commissioning of the nation’s Apache attack helicopters is a critical step in equipping the armed forces to mount a “multiple deterrence” strategy in the event of an enemy invasion, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.

Presiding over a ceremony that saw the commissioning of 29 Apaches into the Taoyuan-based Army Aviation and Special Forces Command, Tsai said the new helicopters would play an important role in the military’s “multiple deterrence, resolute defense” strategy.

“The commissioning of the helicopters is an important milestone in boosting the ROC Armed Forces’ combat readiness. The government will fully support the military to follow up and further enhance the helicopters’ capabilities,” Tsai said.

“Multiple deterrence” means having the ability to attack and defend on various fronts and prevent enemy forces from entering Taiwan by air, land or sea, according to the Ministry of Defense.

Taiwan originally purchased 30 Apache helicopters from the US in 2008 for NT$59.31 billion (US$1.94 billion at the current exchange rate), in a deal that included personnel training and logistics.

The Taiwanese military was the first force outside the US to use the latest variant of Boeing’s Apache AH-64, which was delivered to the nation between November 2013 and October 2014.

Boeing describes it as “the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter” and it has been sold to countries including Japan and the UK.

One of the helicopters was wrecked in a crash during a training flight in Taoyuan in April 2014. The other 29 have been allocated to the command’s 601st Brigade.

Tsai said it took four years and nine months for the army to complete the required training for its pilots, ground crews and logistics personnel and to build the necessary infrastructure.

A qualified Apache pilot requires 84 weeks of training and 300 flight hours, she added.

Also attending the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade’s full combat readiness ceremony yesterday were representatives from the American Institute in Taiwan, Boeing Co, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association and the South Korean Representative Office in Taipei, as well as retired Japanese Self-Defense Forces major general Kinz Watanabe.

Despite previous reports that active service officers of the US Army 25th Combat Aviation Brigade would attend the ceremony, none were present.

The AH-64E, also known as the “tankbuster” or “tank killer,” is equipped with powerful target acquisition radar capable of 360-degree operation to a range of 8km.

The radar system can track over 128 targets simultaneously and identify the 16 most dangerous ones, as well as being equipped with 16 Hellfire missiles that can be deployed in less than 30 seconds, according to the command.

Army Major Yang Yun-hsuan (楊韻璇) was introduced at the ceremony. Yang, the only female Apache pilot in Asia, said her father had been a UH-1H helicopter pilot, which inspired her to follow the same path.

Beijing is incensed by recent warming moves between Washington and Taipei. These include approval by the US State Department of a preliminary licence needed to sell submarine technology to Taiwan.

Additional reporting by Aaron Tu

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