The first of a batch of marine patrol aircraft purchased from the US will arrive in the country today or tomorrow depending on the impact of Typhoon Usagi, according to media reports.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday that according to the air force, the P-3C Orion will take off from the US and stop in Guam or Hawaii before arriving at Pingtung Air Force Base.
The aircraft will be flown by US pilots with Taiwanese air force personnel on board, the report said.
The manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has posted pictures of the P3C carrying Republic of China Air Force markings, the report said.
The military has said that Taiwan would take delivery of four P-3Cs by the end of this year, which will bolster anti-submarine capabilities. The aircraft will be the first of 12 to be delivered by the end of 2015.
The P3Cs and associated equipment and services, worth US$1.96 billion, are part of an arms deal valued at US$2.23 billion announced by the US in 2007.
A new facility has been built in Pingtung County for the repair and maintenance of the P-3Cs. The 26 S-2T aircraft that currently fulfil maritime patrol duties, which were purchased in 1986, can only remain airborne for four hours, compared with the P-3C’s 12 hours. In addition the P-3C has a range of 2,800 nautical miles (5,185km) compared with the S-2T’s 450 nautical miles.