The US has handed over the third batch of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to the Taiwanese Armed Forces.
The six Boeing-built helicopters have arrived at a harbour in the southern city of Kaohsiung for unloading and final assembly, and are scheduled to be flown to Guiren Military Base in Tainan, after standard examinations and testing, for pilot training missions, Central News Agency reports.
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 first and second batches comprising six AH-64E Apaches were delivered in November 2013 and January 2014 respectively, but the fleet was grounded following reports of a malfunction in a helicopter of the same type in service with the US Army.
An unnamed military official was quoted by the news agency as saying that all helicopters have been equipped with new main transmission boxes and recently resumed flying, following completion of test flights and safety verification.
The last two batches, each comprising six helicopters fitted with new transmission boxes, are scheduled to arrive in May and July, according to the official.
Nicknamed 'Guardian,' the 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 and electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors to improve pilots' situational awareness and oversea capacity, enabling potential strikes on smaller ships.
Apart from Taiwan, 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.