Taiwan has declared its Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters fully operational, as outlined by its National Defense Ministry.
In a July 17 ceremony held in the Tawianese Army base at Longtan in northern Taiwan, the 601st Aviation Brigade was declared fully operational as its second Apache Guardian squadron was commissioned into service.
The commissioning of Taiwan’s fleet of 29 Apache Guardians are a wide leap in capability to the island, containing so far been operating the rest of the survivors of 63 Bell AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters delivered inside 1990s.
The ceremony was attended by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who said in their speech the brigade includes a vital role within the Taiwanese military’s efforts to defend Taiwan and deter the enemy.
The 601st Aviation Brigade consists of two squadrons that operate Taiwan’s 29 Apache Guardians, with all the first squadron achieving full operational capability in July 2017.
It was revealed next year that Taiwan had signed an agreement, reported to be worth up to $1.91 billion, for 30 Apache Guardians following notification to Congress through the U.S. Defense
Security Cooperation Agency in the sale in October 2008. Deliveries entered 2012, and crew training in the United States began later that same year.
The first six helicopters were ferried by sea to Taiwan in November 2013, and the remainder Apache Guardians were delivered in batches. The last helicopters were received in October 2014, although by this time one had been written off in the event it crashed in to a residential building in Taoyuan County, northern Taiwan, in April that year.
The Taiwanese Apache Guardians are equipped with the AN/APG-78 Longbow millimeter-wave radar, that’s competent at day, night and all-weather operations which enable it to fire the
Lockheed Martin AGM-114L/M Hellfire missiles which have been acquired by Taiwan.
Taiwan has become under increasingly severe diplomatic pressure from neighboring China, which views the self-governing island like a rogue province and has not ruled out the use of force to retake it. It has also used its diplomatic and economic clout to restrict foreign arms sales to Taiwan, although U.S. is bound with the Taiwan Relations Act to “make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as might be essential to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”