Tue, Sep 25, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Army to build new helicopter facilities

DUAL PURPOSE:A base in Taitung would enable attack helicopters to evacuate and retain combat capabilities, while new hangars would cut down on maintenance times

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopter is parked on the tarmac at the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command’s 601st Brigade in Taoyuan’s Longtan District on July 17.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The Army Command Headquarters is to earmark NT$1.6 billion (US$52 million) to build a helicopter base and helicopter hangars in Taitung County and Taichung respectively to preserve the combat capability of its rotary-wing units in case of a surprise attack by China, a Ministry of National Defense official said yesterday.

Attack helicopters, including Boeing AH-64E Apaches and Bell AH-1W Super Cobras, are to be stationed at Fong Nian Air Force Base (豐年) in Taitung County and Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base (清泉崗) in Taichung, the official said on condition of anonymity.

According to the fiscal 2019 budget sent to the Legislative Yuan for review, the army plans to establish training bases for all kinds of helicopters under the Aviation and Special Forces Command, the official said.

The Taitung base would cost NT$933 million and is expected to be completed by 2023, they said.

With the establishment of the base, rotary-wing units under the command would be able to use the terrain along the coast to evacuate and preserve their combat capability in the event of a surprise attack by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the official said.

The base could also serve as a forward command center for disaster relief, they added.

The planned hangars at Ching Chuan Kang Air Force Base would cost NT$729 million and would also be completed by 2023, the official said.

The command’s AH-1W helicopters have been stationed at the base for some time, but they are “borrowing” the air force’s spare hangars, they said.

“Once we begin building the new hangars, helicopters under the command will have more appropriate storage space, as well as adequate maintenance capabilities,” the official said.

The upgrade would also cut down the maintenance hours that each unit needs, the official added.

In separate news, a senior government official yesterday said that the National Day Celebration Preparation Committee would on Thursday next week announce its arrangements for the Double Ten National Day celebrations.

As customary, several formations of the air force’s main fighter jets would fly over the Presidential Office Building in Taipei and people attending the celebrations, the official said.

As fighter jets travel fast and fly at high altitudes, the air force would also dispatch slower planes, such as Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport planes and Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, which would allow the public to get a closer view of them, the official added.

Weather would be the deciding factor in determining how low the planes would fly, the official said, adding that flight safety would be the top concern.

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