TAIPEI: Two Taiwanese pilots were injured when their Apache attack helicopter crash-landed on a building in northern Taiwan during a routine training mission, the military said.
The pilots suffered slight facial and leg injuries after crashing on top of the three-storey building in Taoyuan county and were taken to hospital. No civilians were hurt.
Television footage showed uniformed men inspecting the wreckage of the AH-64E808 on top of the building, which was partly damaged by the impact along with two adjoining houses.
Army deputy commander Wang Hsing-wei said all Apache helicopters have been grounded for inspections, the second time the aircraft were grounded for safety checks since they came into service in December.
A special team would investigate whether the incident was caused by the weather, the crew or mechanical problems, Wang said.
The chopper “was in clouds and mist and my cockpit window fogged, I couldn’t see the location of the plane and it all happened very fast and suddenly I saw a row of barriers”, the pilot, Major Chen Lung-chien, told a press conference before returning to hospital for a follow-up examination.
Taiwan in November took delivery of its first six AH-64E Apaches bought from the United States as it modernises its military despite warming ties with China.
It temporarily grounded the choppers from December to February for checks after Washington warned the model could malfunction.
The Taiwanese army is the first force outside the United States to use the Apache AH-64E, the latest variant of what is described as the world’s most powerful attack helicopter.
Taiwan has so far received 18 of the 30 Apache helicopters it ordered and the rest will be delivered by the end of 2014.
The order was part of a US$6.5bil (RM16.9bil) arms deal unveiled in 2008 that irked Beijing.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war.
However, Beijing still regards the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. — AFP