Tag Archives: Taiwan

Huge problems with Taiwanese AH-64E fleet

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.

A Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow. Archive photo (Image © Boeing)
RELATED POST: Taiwanese Apaches suffer from “bad spell”

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.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) AH-64E Apache Guardian in action (Image © US Army)

Lockheed Martin promotes F-16V in Indonesia

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.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An artist impression of the F-16V. (Image © Lockheed Martin)


C-130 problem highlights militarization Spratly islands

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.

Ongoing tensions
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.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A RoCAF (Taiwanese) C-130H Hercules landing at Chih Hang AFB in 2013 (Image (CC) Xuán Shǐshēng)

Taiwan sending Orions out to the Spratlys

The Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF, Taiwan) is sending its Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft on subhunting and intelligence gathering missions to the Spratly Islands. The announcement, made by the country’s leadership, is controversial as several countries claim the Spratlys are theirs.

Taiwan received the first ex-US Navy Orions in September 2013. Flying out of Pintung North Airbase a dozen P-3Cs are planned to be operational at the end of this year, with eight delivered so far. Back then neighbouring China objected to the deal and the recent announcement by Taipei will probably not make Beijing happier. Both China’s claim the archipelago and are joined in their dispute by Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei that all seek the same thing: territory worth exploring because of expected oil reserves.

By 2016 both 33rd and 34th Squadrons at Pintung North are expected to reach full operational capability on the Orions. The island areas of Dongsha and Nansha and everything else of the southeastern coast of Taiwan have been given priority for the P-3 patrols. The Spratly Islands are 870 miles (1,400 km) away, well within the combat radius of the Orion which is 1,300 miles (about 2,500 km).

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An ex-US Navy P-3C Orion of the Republic of China Air Force (Image © Lockheed Martin)

Chinese H-6 bombers on expeditionary “wandering”

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force of China Xian H-6 strategic bombers have wandered off to the Western Pacific Ocean for the first time in modern history, according to a news release by the Chinese Ministry of Defence.

Although “not aimed at any particular country or objective” an unknown number of the Chinese copy of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine bomber passed over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan if the information providing by Beijing is correct. According to the info between two and ten H-6s took off from one of the almost 40 airfields / airbases in the Guangzhou region.

Interesting detail: while the Chinese Navy has up to 30 H-6s in its fleet, this time it were the Air Force bombers that were sent airborne “to enhance the Air Force sea mobile operations”. Judging by the information in the news release, the aircraft that participated were of the new H-6K version. The Kilo “Badger” – the latter being NATO’s reporting name for the Russian equivalent – has more powerful engines, larger air intakes, new avionics in the cockpit an new sensors, including in the nose radome.

Own version
China started to produce its own version of the Tupolev Tu-16 already in the 1950s, with the first flight of the Xian H-6 in 1959. The type was the first Chinese aircraft ever to perform an aerial nuclear weapon test, conducted at the Lop Nor proving grounds on 14 May 1965. Russia retired its last Soviet era Tu-16s in 1993, focusing nowadays on the more capable long-distance strategic bombers.

Operated by a crew of four the Xian H-6 has a relatively short combat radius of about 970 nautical miles (1,100 miles or 1,800 km). It is said to be able to operate up to 42,000 feet, has a cruise speed of 353 knots (477 mph or 768 kmh), but can accelerate to 567 knots (656 mph or 1,050 kmh). When not flying in combat mode it should be able to cover 3,200 nautical miles (3,700 miles or 6,000 km).

In service
China is believed to have about 90 to 130 H-6s of various versions left in service. Their bases are known to include Anqing and Dajiaochang in the Nanjing region and Leiyang and Shaodong in the Ghangzou region.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A military drill in front of the camera, likely older and taken on a different day then when the Western Pacific exercise drill occured (Image © Ministry of Defence, People’s Republic of China)

Taxiing H-6s ready to get airborne. No images were released of the strategic bomber taking off or in flight (Image © Ministry of Defence, People's Republic of China)
Taxiing H-6s ready to get airborne. No images were released of the strategic bomber taking off or in flight (Image © Ministry of Defence, People’s Republic of China)