Apache choppers debut in tests open to media

Apache choppers debut in tests open to media
Workers assemble parts on the U.S. made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters at the Kaohsiung harbor.

TAIPEI - The military's newly acquired AH-64E Apache attack helicopters made their public debut in a demonstration at a southern air base yesterday, showcasing the US-made choppers' advanced mobility and firepower.

In an open demonstration yesterday at a southern Tainan air base yesterday morning, two AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, piloted by Taiwanese Army personnel, performed a series of mid-air maneuvers in front of local media.

The US-made helicopter, equipped with AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radar, hovered, flew forward, backward and sideways before landing.

After landing, the pilots of the two choppers, surnamed Lee and Chen, reported to the commander of the air base, in a move that symbolized the helicopters official enlistment to Taiwan Army.

According to Donoran Yeh, a seed instructor who has just finished his Apache training in the U.S, the choppers will greatly improve the military's mobility and firepower.

"The Apache chopper is good for both land and sea-based operations," Yeh told the media.

Taiwan received six AH-64Es from the US on Monday. The helicopters were shipped to Kaohsiung Harbor.

Four of the six choppers have already been flown to the Tainan air base, with the remaining two scheduled to make the flight later yesterday, depending on weather conditions, the Army said.

The six AH-64Es are the first batch of 30 of the advanced attack helicopters purchased by Taiwan from the US, the military said.

The US$2-billion (S$2.5 billion) deal for 30 Apache helicopters was announced by former US President George W. Bush in 2008, with aircraft manufacturer Boeing taking orders in October 2000.

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