Taiwan has finally signed a contract for the purchase of 30 AH-64D Apache Block III, US Program Executive Office Apache attack helicopter programme project manager colonel Shane Openshaw has said.

Congress was originally notified by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) in October 2008.

The estimated $2.5bn deal will be part of the low-rate initial production batch and would be a major enhancement to Taiwanese capabilities.

According to the contract, the first Apache aircraft for Taiwan will go on the line in October this year and is expected to be delivered in 2012-2013.

The block III variant of the helicopter features updated avionics and an improved dynamic system for better performance and greater interoperability with unmanned air systems and troops on the ground.