Taiwan Army denies reports of Israel's interest in Apache pilot

Taiwan Army denies reports of Israel's interest in Apache pilot
The army denied that Israel was looking to recruit Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng, an Apache helicopter pilot who breached military security.
PHOTO: MINDEF

TAIPEI - Taiwan's Army on Saturday denied local media reports that Israel is interested in recruiting a Taiwanese Army pilot who was disciplined after he breached military security by giving civilians access to Taiwan's AH-64E Apache attack helicopters earlier this year.

The Army said it was not aware of such a development and it dismissed the reports as ungrounded rumours.

The local media reported Saturday that Israel was interested in recruiting Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng as an adviser, as the country was planning to purchase AH-64E Apache helicopters.

Lao, a qualified Apache pilot, was removed from his post as deputy head of a helicopter squadron in Taoyuan under the Army Aviation Special Forces Command, after he was found to have given a local TV personality and other civilians access to Taiwan's most advanced helicopter, the AH-64E Apache, in March.

It was also found that Lao had worn a helicopter helmet as part of a costume at a private party last October.

His case was referred to Taoyuan prosecutors, who decided after months of investigation not to indict him.

After the security breaches came to light, Lao was given two major demerits earlier this year by the military, which meant that he would be forced to retire within the year, an Army officer had said at the time.

But on Saturday, the Army said that decision will depend on the results of Lao's annual evaluation. There is a chance that he may be allowed to remain in the military if he stays in line, the Army said.

Currently, Lao is working in the logistics division of the Army Aviation Special Forces Command and is doing a good job, according to an Army official.

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