Taiwanese military officers probed after celeb posts helicopter photos on Facebook

Taiwanese military officers probed after celeb posts helicopter photos on Facebook

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Prosecutors yesterday started an investigation into why military officers let Taiwanese celebrity Janet Lee enter the cockpit of an AH-64E Apache helicopter, with Lee afterwards posting the photos on her Facebook page and receiving coverage from local media.

Lao Nai-cheng, the seed instructor for AH-64E Apache and chief Information Security Officer, failed to uphold proper military conduct, including allowing Lee to post photos of herself sitting in the AH-64E Apache and wearing the newest interactive helmet, according to the Ministry of National Defence.

Lao has been penalized with three reprimands for breaking visiting and national defence security regulations, MND said.

MND Army Command Headquarters officials said that Lee and her son were brought onto the Longtan Base in Taoyuan by Lao on March 29.

The army has strict regulations regarding those who wish to view the state-of-the-art Apaches, including prohibiting the media from recording or taking photos of an Apache cabin to avoid identifying critical equipment. Military officials are also required to accompany visitors at all times as the cockpit equipment is sensitive.

Specifically used in tandem with the AH-64E Apache, the integrated helmet and display sight system that Lee can be seen wearing is priced at NT$2 million (S$100 million) and provides the crewman in the front seat with a visually coupled interface between the aviator and aircraft, enabling weapons aiming and flight functions at the same time.

The helmet is also equipped with a thermographic camera sensor that decreases the aviator's reliance on the cockpit panel.

Netizens condemned Lee's actions, saying that she was guilty of breaching military protocol by sitting in the cockpit, wearing the helmet and posting the pictures online.

Lee responded to the criticism by saying that a friend had taken her and her son on a tour of the military base and there were other MND officials on site at the time.

In a video posted later yesterday, Lee said that she had not thought out her actions and will re-evaluate them. She claims she believed touring an Apache was legal, and wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to educate her son about the military with her husband

Penalties Due: MND

MND spokesman Lo Shao-he said the army officials in question had failed to handle Lee's visitation to the military grounds in accordance with regulations and that authorities will investigate and review the matter.

Military officials said citizens wishing to enter grounds with army aircraft or other equipment should hand applications to the concerning institutions or gain approval from the base commander.

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