Taipei, Jan. 21 (CNA) Taiwan's second squadron of Apache attack helicopters is likely to enter service later this year after the first combat squadron was commissioned last year under the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command, an army officer said Sunday.
After undergoing rigorous operational testing and evaluation, the second Apache combat team is expected to be formally commissioned in the middle of this year, according to the officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The launch of the first Apache combat squadron shows that the Apache is combat-ready, while the formation of the additional squadron means it has full combat and defense capability, he said.
The command's 601st Brigade has been training personnel and upgrading its equipment since 2013 and after undergoing more than two years of training on Taiwan's most advanced attack helicopters, one of the country's two Apache squadrons was formally commissioned in June last year, which has contributed greatly to improving the army's combat capability, according to the command.
Taiwan purchased 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters from the United States for about NT$59.3 billion (US$2.06 billion), including personnel training and logistics.
It took delivery of the choppers from November 2013 to October 2014.
One of the aircraft was destroyed in a crash during a training flight in Taoyuan in April 2014 and the other 29 all belong to the 601st Brigade.
The AH-64E is also known as the "tankbuster." It is equipped with powerful target acquisition radar that is capable of 360-degree operation to a range of 8 kilometers and can track over 128 targets simultaneously and sort out the 16 most dangerous. It carries 16 Hellfire missiles and can deploy them in under 30 seconds, according to the command.
(By Lu Hsin-hui and Evelyn Kao)ENDITEM/J