The air force is to receive 15 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from the US beginning in December, a Ministry of National Defense official said yesterday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the military is going ahead with its plan to divert some of the UH-60M helicopters from the army to the air force, even though it previously justified their purchase by arguing the need to replace the army’s aging fleet of Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopters.
The ministry first proposed buying UH-60M helicopters during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) term in office. A controversy erupted when it was revealed that the Ministry of the Interior’s National Airborne Service Corps was to claim 15 helicopters from the order.
Photo: Lo Tien-pin, Taipei Times
After President’s Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration took office, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) announced that an additional 15 helicopters would be given to the air force.
Although the military previously expressed its willingness to reconsider the plan, the official said the ministry decided to allocate 15 helicopters to the air force and it is planning a delivery schedule.
The decision was described as “final” and the helicopters are to be delivered in three batches, with the first pair arriving in December, the official said.
The remaining batches of six and seven helicopters are to be delivered in June and December next year, the official added.
The air force was given priority in receiving new helicopters because its Sikorsky S-70C search-and-rescue helicopters are overburdened by frequent missions and close to using their maximum allowed time in service, which could lead to operational risks, the official said.
The National Airborne Service Corps had received five UH-60M helicopters and three additional deliveries will be made in the middle of this year, next year and 2020 for a total of 15 aircraft, the official said.
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