The Taiwanese Armed Forces have taken delivery of the first batch of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the US, the country's defence minister Yen Ming has confirmed.
Speaking during the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee meeting, Ming said: ''The six Apache helicopters arrived in southern Kaohsiung Harbor today.''
Taiwan Army Chief of Staff general Hao Yi-chih was quoted by Central News Agency as saying that the helicopters are fitted with AN/APG-78 longbow fire control radar, and are suitable for both land and sea-based reconnaissance missions.
The helicopters, which were originally planned to be delivered in late October, will be eventually shipped to an Army Aviation Special Forces base in Tainan City, Taiwan, as reported earlier by the news agency.
Around 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters were ordered by the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defence (MND) under a NT$59.31bn ($2bn) deal from the US in 2008, to help supplement the national army's ageing AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter fleet.
The second Apache batch will arrive in Taiwan next month, while the rest are expected to be delivered in five batches by the end of 2014, making Taiwan the world's first country besides US to deploy this helicopter type.
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: AH-64E Apache helicopter during a training exercise. Photo: courtesy of Captain Jesse Paulsboe.