The US is set to hand over the first batch of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to the Taiwanese Army early next month, an unnamed military source has revealed.
The source was quoted by Central News Agency as saying that the helicopters will initially be transferred to a harbour in Kaohsiung, prior to delivery to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in Tainan City, Taiwan.
Noting 4 November to be the most likely date for helicopters' arrival, the source said that the delivery was originally planned for late October, but has been delayed in wake of the US' government two-week shutdown.
The second batch will arrive in Taiwan in December, while the rest are expected to be delivered by the end of 2014, the source added.
Around 30 AH-64E Apaches have been ordered by Taiwan under a $2bn deal from the US in 2008, to help supplement the national army's ageing AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter fleet.
The pilots have also completed operational training on the Apache helicopters, which are scheduled to be inducted into operational service in 2014, making Taiwan the world's first country besides US to deploy this helicopter type, according to the news agency.
Nicknamed Guardian, the Boeing AH-64E is a heavily armed helicopter featuring powerful, fuel-efficient T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blade technology and electronics, as well as improved aircraft handling, performance and agility at higher altitudes.
Designed to replace the existing AH-64D Longbow helicopters, the helicopter also features a joint tactical radio system, electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors to improve pilots' situational awareness and an oversea capacity, enabling potential strikes on smaller ships.
The helicopters have also been ordered by the Indonesian and South Korean armies.
Image: An AH-64E Apache helicopter during a training exercise. Photo: courtesy of Captain Jesse Paulsboe.