Taipei (dpa) – Senior Taiwanese military officers and a helicopter pilot were disciplined Tuesday for an unauthorized tour of civilians to a military base that houses US-made attack helicopters.
A military spokesman said pilot Lieutenant Colonel Lao Nai-cheng was pulled out of the Apache AH-64E team for inviting 26 friends and relatives to the restricted base in Taoyuan.
Several officers were also transferred, he said. The punishment was announced after President Ma Ying-jeou responded on Monday to a week of criticism about poor military management.
The scandal emerged after a television personality posted photos on Facebook of her sitting at the controls of an Apache helicopter.
On Monday, 15 people including civilians and military personnel were listed as suspects in a criminal case related to the incident.
Prosecutors said Lao may have violated state secrecy laws.
The defence spokesman said Lao had been disciplined previously for other violations of military regulations.
He took an expensive integrated helmet and display sight system used by Apache pilots to a Halloween party. He also led another civilian group to the base on an unauthorized visit in February, the spokesman said.
Taiwan took possession of the final shipment of 30 Apache AH64-E helicopters from the US in October, worth 59 billion Taiwan dollars (2 billion US dollars), becoming the first international customer to receive the latest Apache model.