The Taiwanese Armed Forces have taken delivery of the second batch of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the US.
The six Boeing-built helicopters arrived at a harbour in the southern city of Kaohsiung, and will subsequently be transferred to an army aviation special forces base in Tainan City for final assembly, 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 batch comprising six AH-64E Apaches was delivered in November 2013, but the helicopters have been grounded since mid-December, following reports of a malfunction in a helicopter of the same type in service with the US Army.
An unnamed military source familiar with the matter, however, noted that no problems have been found in Taiwanese fleet, but the helicopters will remain grounded for safety checks.
The deliveries of third, fourth and fifth batches of Apache helicopters are scheduled for March, May and July 2014, respectively, according to the news agency.
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, electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors to improve pilots' situational awareness and an 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: US Army's new AH-64E Apache Longbow helicopters prepare to take off. Photo: courtesy of US Army.