Three of the six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters that arrived in Greater Kaohsiung on Jan. 2 were trucked from the port to an air base in Greater Tainan yesterday morning for assembly.
Major Genral Fan Hui-kun (范輝坤), the director of the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command’s Political Warfare Department, said the flatbed trucks carrying the helicopters left the port at 4am and arrived without incident at the Tainan base at 5:50am.
To prevent damage to the helicopters en route, the flatbed trucks were specially equipped to absorb shocks, and they also slowed down when passing through a toll station.
The remaining three Apache helicopters are to be delivered the same way early today.
The six aircraft are part of a 30-helicopter package purchased by Taiwan from the US at a cost of more than US$2 billion. The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series.
They were the second batch of Apache choppers delivered to Taiwan. A first batch of six helicopters arrived in early November last year and they were flown from the port to the Tainan air base.
However, while the second batch was on its way, the US Army notified Taiwan of a transmission malfunction in one of the Apache AH-64Es in service in the US.
Taiwan grounded the first group of six choppers for safety checks pending a full investigation by the US into the cause of the malfunction and was forced to transport the second batch of choppers to the air base by truck.
Fan said that the transmission boxes of all 12 Apache helicopters have been removed and sent back to the US, with replacements expected to arrive soon and to be installed by the end of the month.
Though the helicopters have been grounded, their pilots’ simulation training will continue, Fan added.
Delivery of the third, fourth and fifth batches of Apache helicopters is scheduled for March, May and July respectively.