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Taiwan formally commissions Black Hawk combat team

2017/12/11 17:37:01

Photo courtesy of Military News Agency

Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) Taiwan's Army on Monday officially commissioned its UH-60M Black Hawk combat team after completing the verification of the helicopter fleet's initial combat capability.

The Black Hawk team of the 602nd Air Cavalry Brigade under the Aviation and Special Forces Command currently has a fleet of 26 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters the Army purchased from the United States.

The helicopters are known for their adaptability to different combat environments and are capable of engaging in air strikes, carrying out logistics and rescue missions, and conducting airborne command operations, the Army said.

Now that the Black Hawk team has been commissioned and the helicopters' initial combat capability confirmed, the team will be trained to master aviation and maintenance skills so that it bolsters the Army's combat capabilities and forms a powerful security shield in the Taiwan Strait, the Army said.

The 602nd brigade's 26 helicopters are among 60 Black Hawk helicopters ordered by the Army at a cost of NT$84.67 billion to replace its aging UH-1H Huey utility helicopters.

According to the Army, it has taken delivery of 32 of the helicopters so far, with 26 going to the 602nd brigade and the other six going to the National Airborne Service Corps.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who stepped down in May 2016 after completing two four-year terms as president, decided to designate 15 of the advanced helicopters for the National Airborne Service Corps while he was in power.

The remaining 28 Black Hawk choppers will be delivered in partial shipments until 2020, the Army said, with some of those choppers expected to go to the National Airborne Service Corps and others to Taiwan's Air Force.

Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said last year that 15 Black Hawks will be turned over to the Air Force to replace S-70C helicopters that have been used for 30 years.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Elizabeth Hsu)