Taiwan is the first foreign customer of the ‘Echo’ model, which is lighter and more nimble than its predecessor
In a long-awaited moment, Taiwan today received delivery of the first six of a total of 30 Boeing Co AH-64E Apache helicopters from the U.S. Another batch will arrive next month, with full delivery expected by the end of 2014, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
The Echo model — the most advanced in the Apache family — comes equipped with the AN/APG-78 “Longbow” Fire Control Radar and AGM-114L “Hellfire” missiles. As I reported last year, part of the “Echo” model’s advantages are its improved composite main rotor blades, which are 15cm longer than those used on older models, as well as a new tip design and General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, all of which give the aircraft improved aerodynamic performance. The AH-64Es’ new power-to-weight ratio also makes it safer for low-altitude operations and gives it a performance similar to that of the AH-64A, which was significantly lighter than the AH-64D Block II model.
Taiwanese Army pilots began undergoing training on the AH-64E at an Army base in the U.S. in November last year. The “Echo” will add to the Army’s 60+ AH-1W “Cobra” attack helicopters, which it acquired in 1990. Its principal role will be to counter an amphibious attack/landing by enemy forces.
Taiwan is the first foreign client for the AH-64E (the initial contract was for the AH-64D Block III), which it procured as part of a US$6.4 billion arms package released in October 2008 (the Apaches account for about US$2.5 billion of the total). The US Army received its first model in 2011. (Photo: CNA)