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Taiwan takes delivery of advanced search, rescue helicopters

2011/11/25 20:26:11

Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) Taiwan took delivery Friday of three EC-225 Super Puma search and rescue (SAR) helicopters that it ordered last year from Eurocopter, the Air Force said.

The Super Puma choppers were delivered to the Chiayi airbase in southern Taiwan, where they will beef up the country's search and rescue capabilities at night, in bad weather, or in high mountains or rough seas, said Maj. Gen. Yang Feng-sheng, commander of the Air Force Wing 455.

After being assembled and tested, the all-weather, all-topography aircraft will join the Air Force Seagull Rescue Squadron July 1 next year. The squadron currently owns 17 S-70 helicopters, most of which are over 20 years old, Yang noted.

The Super Puma chopper has a five-blade main rotor incorporating a new airfoil shape to reduce vibration levels and increase its capacity to up to 24 passengers.

They are equipped with de-icing systems, movable stretchers, life rafts, pop-out floats, life monitoring devices and automatic flight control systems.

They can also be used to airlift supplies to isolated areas and to transport sick and injured people to hospitals, Yang noted.

The EC-225 was first developed by Eurocoper in 1998 and Taiwan placed its order for three of them at a cost of US$110 million in February 2010, with an option for 17 more.

Taiwan sent pilots and crew and ground service personnel to Eurocopter's European base for a four-month training course earlierthis year.

The helicopters are 19.5 meters long, have a maximum take-off weight of 11.2 tons and a range of 857 kilometers, in comparison with the S-70Cs' take-off weight of 9 tons and a range of 550 km.

(By Huang Kuo-fang and Deborah Kuo)