Agence France Presse reports (via South China Morning Post), Oct. 18, 2013, that Taiwan is set to receive the first batch of attack helicopters ordered from the United States next month, after the US government ended its two-week shutdown, a report said yesterday.
The US$6.5 billion arms deal, including a fleet of 30 advanced Apache Longbow helicopters, was announced in 2008, causing anger in Beijing, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan and opposes arms sales to the island.
The first six Apache AH-64Es, the latest variant of one of the world’s most powerful attack helicopters, were expected to be delivered to the port of Kaohsiung early in November, Taiwan’s Central News Agency said, citing unnamed military sources.
The Taiwanese army would become the first force outside the US to introduce the variant, the report added.
Delivery was originally set for October but has been delayed by the US government shutdown. […]
The second batch of Apache AH-64Es were scheduled to arrive in December while the remaining ones would be delivered by the end of 2014, the report said without elaborating. Defence officials in Taiwan did not comment on the report.
Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 after a civil war. However, Beijing still regards the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, prompting Taipei to seek more weaponry, mainly from the US.
Tensions between the two sides have eased markedly since Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan’s president in 2008 on a platform of rapprochement with the central government. But Ma has stressed that Taiwan needs to maintain sufficient self-defence and will continue to acquire arms from the US.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency reports (via GlobalSecurity.org) that the first batch of six Apaches will be shipped to a harbor in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung and then will be flown to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in neighboring Tainan City.
The second batch of the Apache helicopters, scheduled to arrive in Taiwan in December, will be formally commissioned into service next year, the source said.
Taiwan has sent 61 pilots to the U.S. to undergo training in flying the Apache helicopters and they have all completed the training and returned to Taiwan.