Pilots train in US to prepare for Black Hawk choppers: report
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) recently sent a batch of pilots and chief engineers to the U. S. for training in preparation for receiving 15 UH- 60 Black Hawk helicopters that will be used for disaster relief, a local newspaper reported yesterday.
According to the Chineselanguage United Evening News, the MOI sent 12 pilots and eight chief engineers under Taiwan’s National Airborne Service Corps (NASC) to a training center in Florida last month to receive training so that they will be ready to fly the Black Hawk helicopters in the future.
Their training is expected to be completed in January before they return to Taiwan, MOI sources told the newspaper yesterday.
The MOI said the 15 choppers are scheduled to join the NASC in different batches starting later this month.
Currently the NASC is operating search and rescue missions with three 30- year- old B234 Chinook helicopters; 15 UH-1H utility helicopters that had been in use for around 40 years; and two 24-year-old S-76B helicopters, the newspaper said.
The Black Hawk helicopters are expected to gradually replace the aging choppers currently owned by the NASC.
Taiwan has bought a total of 60 Black Hawk helicopters, worth US$ 3.1 billion, as part of the arms sale package announced by the U.S. in 2010.
According to the Army, the UH- 60 helicopters will mainly be used for transportation. The more advanced helicopters manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation will replace the military’s aging UH-1H helicopter fleet.
Fifteen of the helicopters will be used for disaster relief by the NASC under the MOI.
Taiwan so far has taken delivery of eight Black Hawk helicopters. The first batch of four was shipped to Taiwan last December while the second batch, another four choppers arrived this May.
The 60 helicopters are scheduled to be delivered to Taiwan in 10 shipments, with the final batch of three to be shipped in 2019, the Army said.