APACHE HELICOPTER MOST SUITED TO TAIWAN'S DEFENSE NEEDS: ARMY
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, July 10 (CNA) The U.S.-built AH64D Apache attack helicopter would best serve Taiwan's future defense needs, a senior army officer said Tuesday.
Tai Kuang-chao, a section chief at the army headquarters in charge of arms procurement planning, made the remarks after the army's plan to purchase 30 AH64Ds drew questions and criticism.
According to reports, the army is determined 30 AH64Ds and will start to appropriate budget for the NT$73 billion (US$2.26 billion) Apache procurement project from 2008.
Tai said the procurement plan has been adopted only after an extensive survey and comprehensive evaluation.
Some military observers questioned why the army excluded the AH1Z helicopter from its shopping list, since the AHIZ possesses common features with the AH-1W choppers now in service in the army's airborne fleet.
In response, Tai pointed out that the AH1Z has not even entered testing and assessment and that it remains uncertain whether it will pass this testing.
As the army badly needs to upgrade its combat capability and cannot afford any gaps in its arsenal, Tai said the decision was made to purchase AH64Ds. Moreover, he said, this type of attack helicoper can be upgraded.
In the face of mounting military threat from China, Taiwan has been seeking more advanced weaponry. Military experts said Apache is more powerful than the AH-1W now serving the army. If the deal goes through, the experts said, it would be a boost to Taiwan's anti-landing defenses. China has deployed nearly 1,000 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan and its first aircraft carrier is expected to join its naval fleet in the next few years.
(By Sofia Wu)
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