Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Disaster highlights need for new helicopters: officer

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The army is planning to refile its request for purchasing new helicopters to replace its remaining UH-1Hs, sources from the Ministry of National Defense said.

"We hope the crash [on Tuesday] would once again draw everybody's attention to this issue," a high-ranking officer at Army Command Headquarters said on condition of anonymity.

"We do need new equipment. We will sacrifice more innocent men like this in vain if we continue to use those old choppers, which should be on display in a museum already," he said.

Army sources said the service had already submitted a plan in 1998 to replace the UH-1Hs with new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, developed by Sikorsky Co, but the plan was halted because the local agent of another US manufacturer strongly lobbied for a different helicopter.

The utility helicopter replacement plan has not resumed since that time, because the Army decided to place priority on purchasing new attack helicopters.

Army authorities said they were hopeful that the mishap on Tuesday would inspire a change in the military's arms procurement policy, which tends to give top priority to the Navy and the Air Force's shopping lists.

During the past decade, the army was led by five different commander-in-chiefs, but none of them have brought a procurement deal for helicopters to a conclusion.

"Former commander-in-chief General Hu Chen-pu (胡鎮埔) was the only one who had shown the most concern toward this procurement plan," the source said. "Unfortunately, he left his post within one year."

"After taking the oath of office, current commander-in-chief General Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) has not stated his stance regarding the case," the source said.

Chao, however, has asked his fellow staff members to begin an evaluation report on the case and file it with the ministry, the source added.

"The evaluation report for a specific weapon is the first step in terms of the entire procurement process," the source said.

Additional reporting by CNA

This story has been viewed 2388 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top