Too early for chopper drills on new landing platform dock: MND

Taiwan's military is holding back on using choppers to test its new landing platform dock (LPD) despite a request by lawmakers, saying Monday such tests will not happen until the necessary evaluations and preparations are completed.

Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesman Shih Shun-wen (???) told CNA that the military will first assess the differences between helicopters deployed by each branch of the armed forces and then prepare drills accordingly, without elaborating.

The comment came after the Legislative Yuan's National Defense and Diplomacy Committee adopted a non-binding resolution last month asking the MND to have helicopters deployed by the Army, Navy and Air Force, to conduct landing and take-off drills at the Taiwan-made Yushan LPD.

The Yushan is the first of a total of four indigenous LDPs being built by local shipbuilder CSBC Corp., Taiwan for the Navy. It was christened and launched in April 2021, but has yet to be handed over to the Navy as testing continues.

The LPD is scheduled to officially enter service sometime later this year.

Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Ma Wen-chun (???), the initiator of the legislative resolution, wondered in a Facebook post Monday about the LDP's ability to handle chopper landings, which is why she proposed to have the MND conduct such drills.

The Yushan LDP cost taxpayers NT$7 billion (US$25.3 million), and the military needed to make sure it can meet the Navy's requirements, she wrote.

The ship, with a length of 153 meters and a beam of 23 meters with a maximum speed of 21 knots and range of 7,000 miles, is able to carry several AAV7 amphibious armed personnel carriers and 673 troops.

The ship also has two hangars able to accommodate military helicopters, according to the MND, which is why the lawmakers asked the military to conduct exercises to test its ability to accommodate military choppers.

A military official told CNA that landing a helicopter on an LPD (also known as amphibious transport dock) is one of the most challenging tasks for pilots and the ship's crew because they have to consider the speeds of the ship and chopper as well as the tide and wind.

More "long-term preparations" are needed before actually conducting such drill, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Once in service, the ROCS Yushan will replace the ROCS Hsu Hai dock landing ship, which first entered service with the U.S. Navy as the USS Pensacola in 1971, before being transferred to Taiwan in 1999.

The Yushan LPD will be responsible for transporting supplies and personnel to the country's offshore islands and to handle humanitarian assistance missions in case of emergency, according to the MND.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel