Com­mis­sion­ing of Apache fleet not af­fected by re­cent scan­dal: Army

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Tai­wan’s Army on Satur­day de­nied a lo­cal me­dia re­port that the com­mis­sion­ing of its U.S.-made AH-64E Apache attack he­li­copters has been post­poned as a re­sult of a re­cent scan­dal over se­cu­rity breaches at one of its bases.

“We did not plan any com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­monies ( for the Apaches) this year,” the Army said, adding that flight train­ing for the cut­ting-edge Apache he­li­copter model is pro­ceed­ing as sched­uled.

The state­ment was in re­sponse to a re­port in the Satur­day edi­tion of the Chi­nese-lan­guage Lib­erty Times, which said that the Army had post­poned the com­mis­sion­ing of the he­li­copter fleet from July to some­time af­ter Septem­ber.

The pa­per said the re­cent se­cu­rity in­ci­dent, in which an Apache pi­lot gave civil­ians ac­cess to the AH-64E he­li­copters, has af­fected the morale of of­fi­cers and sol­diers in the Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces Com­mand, which is why the com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony has been post­poned.

The AH-64E Apache he­li­copter fleet, which was ac­quired from the U.S. over a one-year pe­riod, most likely will be com­mis­sioned af­ter the Han Kuang mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in Septem­ber, the news re­port said.

Asked when the com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony will take place, the Army de­clined to give a def­i­nite date, say­ing only that “we will pro­ceed in line with our sched­ule.”

At the cen­ter of the se­cu­rity scan­dal is Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng ( ), the deputy head of a he­li­copter squadron in Taoyuan un­der the Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces Com­mand, who has since been re­moved from his post.

Lao was found to have brought a group of peo­ple, in­clud­ing TV host­ess Janet Lee ( ), her rel­a­tives and friends, to see the Apaches at their base in Long­tan March 29 with­out ap­proval from his su­pe­ri­ors. Some of the vis­i­tors even boarded an Apache to take pho­tos.

The case came to light af­ter Lee posted four pho­tos of the tour on her Face­book page, in­clud­ing one of her in the chop­per’s cock­pit.

It was also found that Lao, a pi­lot in the Army’s 601st Avi­a­tion Brigade, had not re­turned an Apache flight hel­met af­ter a train­ing mission last Oc­to­ber, but rather had car­ried it off the base and worn it as part of a Hal­loween cos­tume at a party at his home, ac­cord­ing to a De­fense Min­istry in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Tai­wan has taken de­liv­ery of all 30 Apaches it pur­chased from the U.S. The Army held a de­liv­ery cer­e­mony in De­cem­ber 2013 af­ter Tai­wan re­ceived the first batch of the Apache he­li­copters but has not yet for­mally com­mis­sioned the fleet.

The model E is the lat­est in the Apache attack he­li­copter se­ries and Tai­wan is among only a few coun­tries us­ing it so far.

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