Air Force denies choppers are unsuitable

The China Post news staff

The R.O.C. Air Force Command Headquarters yesterday denied media reports alleging that the Air Force wasted NT$3.2 billion of public funds to purchased rescue and medical service helicopters later discovered to be unsuitable for these purposes.

A statement issued by the headquarters under the Ministry of National Defense stressed that the specifications of the EC225 Eurocopters procured from France conform to the functions and specifications required in governing regulations set by the Cabinet-level Department of Health. The acquired EC225 Eurocopters belong to the category of choppers with the emergency medical service (EMS) configurations and are specialized in performing emergency medical missions by Air Force medical units, the statement said. The Air Force chose the EC225 Eurocopters, over other models suggested by helicopter manufacturers during the procurement, mainly because their functions meet the requirements while the cost is 16-percent lower for the purchasing budget. Sikorsky helicopters were also among those under consideration during the procurement and evaluation process, the statement said. The statement explained that the advanced electronic and medical equipment enable the EC225 EMS Eurocopters to accommodate one person in a serious medical condition plus one passenger with medium-grade injuries or other medical conditions at the same time. Each of the medical choppers can also accommodate simultaneously as many as 14 people with light injuries, it said. Furthermore, the electronics equipment aboard the helicopters won’t interfere with the highly delicate emergency medical instruments also onboard. Concerning media reports alleging that some parts and equipment of the helicopters come from China, the statement clarified that the Air Force had reached an understanding with all potential suppliers, stipulating that no parts or components made in China should be used in the helicopters.

The French supplier of the EC225 Eurocopters has fully complied with the criterion of using no made-in-China products as specified in the procurement documents, the statement said.