Three European-built EC225 Super Puma helicopters were officially commissioned into the air force at a ceremony yesterday, providing a welcome boost to the nation’s search-and-rescue (SAR) capabilities.
During the ceremony, held at Songshan Air Force Base in Taipei, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told a large gathering of military personnel and foreign dignitaries that the armed forces’ disaster response work in recent years had earned them the trust of the public.
The EC225, built by the France-based Eurocopter, an EADS subsidiary, has a maximum takeoff weight of about 11 tonnes and can accommodate two pilots, four crew and as many as 20 passengers or three stretchers, according to the builder’s Web site. The twin-engine, five-rotor-blade helicopter has a maximum endurance of five hours and 38 minutes, a maximum speed of 324kph and a maximum range of 838km.
The Super Pumas are the first European-built helicopters to serve in the Air Force’s rescue squadron, joining the Sikorsky S-70Cs, the nation’s main workhorse for search and rescue operations, which were acquired in the 1980s and 1990s. The total price tag for the three helicopters was NT$3.6 billon (US$120 million).
About 900 EC225s have been ordered by 52 countries, the company said on its Web site.
Following a flyby by F-16s, F-CK-1 “Ching Kuo” Indigenous Defense Fighters, Mirage 2000 and AT-3 trainers, the audience was treated to a live demonstration of the S-70C and EC225’s flight and rescue capabilities.
Colonel Chen Tung-sheng (陳東昇), who heads the air force’s rescue squadron, told reporters at the ceremony that the automatic flight control systems and other advanced devices featured on the EC225 would be especially beneficial during nighttime operations.
One S-70C-6 Super Blue Hawk crashed at sea during a nighttime rescue mission off Orchid Island in March, leaving four of the five occupants missing. In 1995, a S-70C-1 crashed into a mountain during bad weather, killing all on board.
Chen said the Super Pumas would be on standby to provide search and rescue starting today, adding that pilots would be trained to be able to fly both the S-70C and EC225.
The helicopters will be based at the 455th Tactical Fighter Wing at Chiayi Air Base.
A video allegedly featuring retired general Kao An-kuo (高安國) calling on Taiwanese military officers to surrender to China and overthrow the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has sparked outrage and calls for him to be charged with treason. The video, titled “A message to Taiwanese military officers,” allegedly shows Kao saying: “I call on commanding officers of our military troops to stand up for Chinese nationalism, to take up this duty under heaven’s mandate to save Taiwanese from oppression and terrible suffering.” Dressed in military fatigues and a beret, the lieutenant general called on officers to overthrow the “fraudulent DPP regime,”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday rejected the claim Beijing has been making about Taiwan’s status, while thanking US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman for raising concerns about Taiwan during her meeting with Chinese officials. Sherman met with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on a visit to Tianjin on Sunday and Monday, with Wang urging Washington not to infringe on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Taiwan is part of China, a fundamental fact that would never change, and China has the right to take any action needed to restrain Taiwanese independence, Wang said, urging Washington to abide
A solo exhibition by Taiwanese artist Lee Kuang-yu (李光裕) at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay has generated considerable attention since its opening last year, including from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍). Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders early last year, domestic tourism in Singapore has soared at destinations such as the popular Gardens by the Bay, a nature park in the city-state’s Central Region. Since the venue’s reopening in August last year, “A Sculptor’s Secret Garden,” a solo exhibition of Lee Kuang-yu’s work curated by Tan Hwee Koon (陳慧君), has been been especially popular. Originally scheduled to close today, the show
HASTY REVIEW CLAIMS: Medigen’s vaccine, which is to start phase 3 clinical trials later this year, should not have received emergency use authorization, Hau said Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) is to appeal the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization of Medigen Vaccine Biologics’ COVID-19 vaccine, he said yesterday. The administration on July 19 granted Medigen emergency use authorization, even though the drugmaker had not yet completed phase 3 clinical trials. The government should not authorize the use of a vaccine that has not completed phase 3 trials, Hau said in Taipei on the sidelines of an event to distribute boxed meals with former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康). Hau said the government had politicized