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Taiwan: six more Apache choppers

A second batch of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters will arrive in Taiwan on Thursday as scheduled, a military source said Wednesday.

The U.S.-made helicopters will be shipped to a harbor in the southern city of Kaohsiung and later sent to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in neighboring Tainan City to be assembled there, the source told CNA.

The six aircraft are part of a 30-helicopter package purchased by Taiwan at a cost of more than US$2 billion. The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series.

Taiwan took delivery of the first batch of six Apache choppers in early November, all of which have been grounded for safety checks since mid-December after Taiwan was notified of a malfunction in a helicopter of the same model used by the U.S. Army.

However, no problems were found in the six helicopters already in Taiwan, the source said.

On Dec. 17, Taiwan's Army was notified of a main transmission failure in an AH-64E Apache helicopter being used by the U.S. military. The source said it was the first such problem encountered in the new Apache helicopter.

For safety concerns, Taiwan's Army has since grounded all of its Apache helicopters pending a full investigation by the U.S. into the cause of the malfunction.

"We have not received any further information from the U.S. on the cause of the problem," the source said.

The newly delivered choppers, therefore, will also be grounded for safety checks after their arrival, the source said.

In the meantime, "our pilots can use simulated aircraft for their training," the official said.

Delivery of the third, fourth and fifth batches of Apache helicopters is scheduled for March, May and July, respectively, the source said.

The U.S. and Taiwan are the only two countries that use the latest model of Apache helicopters. 

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