President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) touted the capabilities of newly acquired AH-64E Apache attack helicopters yesterday at a ceremony in the south to mark the US’ delivery of the aircraft.
“The aircraft is the world’s top attack helicopter” and will bolster Taiwan’s combat capabilities, Ma said at the ceremony at an Army Aviation Special Forces base in Greater Tainan.
Equipped with AN/APG-78 Longbow fire control radar, the US-made helicopter is good for both land and sea-based operations.
During his speech at the ceremony, Ma said the Republic of China is a sovereign country and needs to maintain adequate national defense capabilities.
“A solid national defense is the basis of national security and also ensures the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
Even though cross-strait ties are at their best in 60 years, Taiwan’s military must remain vigilant, Ma said at the event, where the army demonstrated the capabilities of the Apache helicopters. The US-made helicopters were flown at low altitude, made to hover and put through shift turns.
After the demonstration, Ma boarded one of the helicopters and was given a briefing by the pilot on the aircraft’s equipment and devices.
Donning a pilot’s helmet, Ma posed in the helicopter, making a thumbs-up gesture.
At the ceremony, Army Commander General Lee Hsiang-chou (李翔宙) said that the army would continue to protect the country and contribute to its development.
Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) and other senior government officials, as well as American Institute in Taiwan Director Christopher Marut were also at the ceremony.
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 procurement of the aircraft will greatly improve the Taiwanese military’s mobility and firepower, the ministry said.
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 last batch by the end of next year, the military said.