TAICHUNG, Taiwan, March 14 (Reuters) – Taiwan showcased new models of its domestically produced military drones on Tuesday, saying they are key to its “asymmetric warfare” capacity to make its forces more agile if they have to face a far larger Chinese military.
China, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, has ramped up military activity near the democratically governed island to force it to accept Chinese sovereignty despite Taiwan’s objections.
The war in Ukraine has lent new urgency to Taiwan military’s efforts to bolster defence including a push to develop drones.
In a rare display of its drone capabilities, the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), showed off its latest models, including the Albatross II surveillance drone, and combat drones that operate with global positioning system satellites.
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NCSIST head Art Chang said the war in Ukraine had focused attention on drones, and his institution had teamed up with Taiwan companies to build a “national team” to develop military drones.
Taiwan’s military has announced a partnership with companies aimed at producing 3,000 drones next year.
Chi Li-Pin, director of Aeronautical Systems Research Division for NCSIST, said the armed forces should increase their adoption of drones in their strategies.
[1/6] A view shows Cardinal III UAV on display as Taiwan’s Defence Ministry showcases its domestically developed drones to the press in Taichung, Taiwan March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang
“I hope our national troops can familiarise themselves with this weapon of asymmetric warfare and use them boldly,” he told reporters at an NCSIST facility in the central city of Taichung.
President Tsai Ing-wen has championed the idea of “asymmetric warfare” to make Taiwan’s forces more mobile and harder to attack.
Taiwan’s armed forces are well-equipped but still dwarfed by China’s.
Among the drones on display was an attack drone with loitering munitions that can cruise towards a target before plummeting at velocity and detonating on impact.
China has sent its drones to areas close to Taiwan to test its responses, the island’s defence ministry has said.
Last year, Taiwan shot down a civilian drone that entered its airspace near an islet off the Chinese coast.
The island’s defence ministry said in a report to parliament this week, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, that China was quickly building up its combat capacity with drones, including swarms of flying robots.
In response, Taiwan will focus on developing its combat and surveillance drones, as well as anti-drone systems, the ministry said.
Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ann Wang; Editing by Robert Birsel
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