The Republic of China Air Force denied a local media report yesterday that it had squandered NT$3.2 billion (US$106.84 million) by purchasing search-and-rescue helicopters that were not capable of fulfilling their missions.
A magazine report claimed that the three new Super Puma EC225 search-and-rescue helicopters ordered in February last year and delivered to Taiwan in November last year did not have the right specifications and were a complete waste of taxpayer money.
In response, the air force said in a statement that the procurement of the Super Puma search-and-rescue helicopters met the Department of Health’s (DOH) new air ambulance management regulations and said that the helicopters were professional air ambulances.
The helicopters were purchased according to the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法), the statement said, with Sikorsky and Eurocopter participating in the public tender.
The price offered by Eurocopter for its EC225 model was much lower than Sikorsky’s offer for its S-92 and saved 16 percent of the budget for the project, the statement said.
The air ambulance can provide emergency medical care equivalent to an intensive care unit, and take care of one critically ill patient and one patient with moderately severe symptoms, or 14 patients with mild injuries, it said, adding that electronic navigation devices would not be affected by the electronic medical devices on board, so flying safety was not an issue.
The magazine report also charged that some of the components in the newly purchased Super Puma EC225 helicopters were made in China, but the air force denied that, saying that the contract was clear on “banning the use of Chinese parts,” which was confirmed by Eurocopter.