The Republic of China Army Aviation (RoCAA; Taiwan) has extreme difficulties keeping its 29 new AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters airborne. Part of the problem is a discovered material failure due to faulty production by Boeing.
The American manufacturer of the legendary attack helicopter is using a new aluminum-magnesium alloy for the tail rotor gearbox and this material seems to be the reason of corrosion in salty and humid climates such as in Taiwan. Nine AH-64Es are grounded because of this issue, while Boeing technicians are trying to find a solution but for now just advising ill-tested short-term measures.
Another 12 helicopters stay on the tarmac since there are insufficient spare parts to keep them airborne, sources inside the Taiwanese military confirmed. This leaves only eight choppers operational in a country under constant threat by mainland China.
The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said that corrosion woes with AH-64E Apache helicopters have led to the aircraft’s grounding, and Boeing, the US manufacturer, has dispatched a special task force to help identity and fix the problem.
The Apache Guardian is so far a very unsuccessful story in Japan. On 25 April 2014 one RoCAA AH-64E crashed into a house reducing the number of aircraft immediately to 29 shortly after purchase. Taiwanese Apaches were grounded for a while as well after a problem with the main transmission was discovered on US Army versions.
When the RoCAA can really make use of all its AH-64Es is still unknown.
Lockheed Martin is promoting its latest F-16 version, the F-16V, in Indonesia. The company showed off its F-16V cockpit demonstrator to the Asian country. The F-16V offers a state of the art radar and enhancements to the aircraft’s mission computer, vehicle systems, aircraft structure, cockpit and electronic warfare system.
The F-16V was first unveiled at the 2012 at the Singapore airshow. This variant is an option for new production jets and elements of the upgrade are available to most earlier-model F-16s. The new avionics configuration represents the most significant F-16 upgrade to date, according to Lockheed Martin. Taiwan is the first customer for the F-16V.
Indonesia already operates F-16A/B variants and is also introducing ex-US Air Force F-16C/D versions into its fleet.
In a nice show-off China Airlines’ (Taiwan) newest 777-300ER landed at Paris-Le Bourget on 13 June 2015. The aircraft will be on static display from Monday 15 to Thursday 17 June at the international airshow currently being held at Le Bourget, with visitors being allowed to take a tour inside.
China Airlines currently operates five newly configured 777-300ERs on routes serving Hong Kong, Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline is scheduled to receive five more in the next couple of years to support the launch of new European and North American routes.
Based in the northwestern city of Taoyuan, China Airlines is Taiwan’s largest carrier, with 115 destinations in 29 countries and regions worldwide. The airline operates more than 100 flights weekly from mainland China to Taiwan, and that number is expected to grow as liberalization of rules and regulations continues, allowing more mainland Chinese tourists to fly into and through Taiwan.
The Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF; Taiwan) is going to buy four to six Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan tactical airlifters, through US based L-3 Communications and possibly partly aided by a US finance program, some sources in Taipei say.
The Spartans are to supplement the fleet of 19 larger C-130 Hercules aircraft. Taiwan is also searching for an adequate replacement for its single Fokker 50 VIP aircraft. In theory it could be one of the C-27Js, but that is a bit unlikely considering the more “combat” nature of the machine.
According to sources in the US Taiwan has been seeking the purchase of the C-27Js for a longer period of time, with the US clearing the Asian island nation to buy them, but a lack of funds has prevented the government in Taipei from striking a deal. Most of the RoCAF’s budget is used to upgrade half of its 116 General Dynamics designed F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jets to the F-16AV/BV standard with a new radar, avionics and on-board computer to the F-16V standard; and to keep its 550+ strong aircraft fleet airborne and ready.
A relatively minor incident with a Taiwanese Lockheed C-130H Hercules on Wednesday 26 May 2015 again puts the focus on the ongoing military and geopolitical play in the South Chinese Sea.
The Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) airlifter landed at Nansha Taiping Island to have officials of the ministries of Defence and Transportation plus the Coast Guard inspect recent upgrades and the modernization of the Zhengjian Taiping Airport runways, navaids and facilities. The airport is small as such, but compared to the size of the island the 4,000 feet long airstrip occupies almost the entire length of the island. A oversized habour is located south of it.
Lift-off back to Taiwan was aborted because of an apparent failure in one of the flaps. But after some mechanical work on the ground, the plane left just before the evening anyway with a five hour delay.
The Herc problem has again put the Spratlys – an archipellago of atolls, islands, islets, cays and reefs in the South Chinese Sea in between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam – again in the footlight of the ongoing tensions in Asia. Although the Taiping Island in question is officially administered by Taiwan, it is situated 900 miles (1450 km) from the southern tip of the country. Mainland China (630 miles / 1020 km away), the Philippines (290 miles / 480 km), Malaysia (290 miles / 480 km) and Vietnam (380 miles / 610 km) say that the area is theirs as well.
During the last decades the countries have many times faced each other, but so far not with any serious military escalation yet. But as the search for oil and power intensifies with an ever strong mainland China, many wonder for how long the status quo can be maintained.