Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) commissioned its first air brigade equipped with Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters on 17 July.
The 29 Apache helicopters will be operated by Republic of China Army’s (RoCA’s) 601st Air Cavalry Brigade, which operates under the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command (AASFC) based in Taoyuan’s Longtan District in northern Taiwan.
The 601st Air Cavalry Brigade is made up of two Apache squadrons, the first of which was commissioned in July 2017. The second one passed operational readiness evaluations earlier this year.
The AH-64Es operated by the RoCA are armed with a 30 mm M230 chain gun and can carry, among other things, AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, Hydra-70 2.75-inch rocket pods and AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, with the exact loadout depending on the operational requirements.
The platforms are also equipped with the AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control target acquisition radar, which gives the helicopter day/night, all-weather, 360° search capabilities for both air and ground targets up to a range of 8 km.
Taiwan purchased 30 Boeing Apache helicopters from the United States in 2008 for USD1.94 billion and took delivery of the final batch in October 2014. One of the helicopters was badly damaged in a training accident in April 2014.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the two Apache squadrons will “play a pivotal role in boosting Taiwan’s combat capabilities and its defensive needs”.
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