In a bid to safeguard its airspace against potential Chinese drone invasions in the event of future conflicts, Taiwan is taking swift measures to enhance its defences.
The Taiwanese military has initiated the deployment of cutting-edge counter-drone technology on islands located just a few miles from China’s southeastern coast. These islands have recently experienced an increase in incursions by commercial drones over the past year.
Amid these developments, concerns have arisen regarding the allocation of US weapons and support for the ongoing Ukraine war, potentially diverting resources that could be used to bolster Taiwan’s defence capabilities.
The outbreak of conflict in Israel has also heightened concerns of a possible Chinese incursion into Taiwan.
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Taiwan’s archipelago faced a surge in commercial drone intrusions near sensitive military installations following the visit of Nancy Pelosi, the former US House speaker, in August of the previous year, which had ruffled feathers in Beijing.
Taiwan’s defence ministry responded to public outrage after footage surfaced of Taiwanese soldiers throwing stones at a Chinese drone that had approached their guard post. In response, they committed to the installation of counter-drone systems.
As part of the Drone National Team program, Taiwan is collaborating with commercial drone manufacturers, aviation and aerospace companies, as well as the military to produce over 3,200 military drones by mid-2024.
This comprehensive effort includes the development of both miniature drones and larger surveillance aircraft with a range of 150 kilometres.
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Yu-Jiu Wang, CEO of Tron Future, a startup that specialises in radar, jamming, and interception systems, emphasised the potential severity of the situation.
He told The Telegraph: “If you can imagine in a serious conflict like World War 3, then that could become terrifying – a swarm of drones carrying a few bullets in each of them and they can recognise people and shoot them down. That could happen. The technology already exists.”
Wang clarified that his system is primarily defensive and will initially focus on protecting critical infrastructure such as power plants, telecommunications base stations, and dams.
However, the company, headquartered in Taiwan’s microchip hub, Hsinchu, is pivoting its focus to prepare for a worst-case scenario of a fully autonomous drone swarm that could saturate the skies and wreak havoc on the ground.
The threat of an autonomous drone war, although futuristic in nature, is considered real and imminent due to rapid technological advancements worldwide, Wang stressed.
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