• Reuters

Taiwan to speed drone development, take lessons from Ukraine war

REUTERS/Ann Wang
A Taiwanese flag flaps in the wind in Taiwan, June 30, 2021.

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan will speed up development of drones for military use taking into account the lessons of the war in Ukraine and the threat posed by China, the island’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.

Unmanned aircraft have played a crucial role on both sides since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year. Ukraine’s defense minister has said that he regarded drones as the future of modern warfare.

Taiwan, which is facing a growing threat from China to use force to bring it under Beijing’s control, has repeatedly said it is closely watching the war and learning lessons it could apply to fight off a Chinese attack, including how Ukraine has resisted a numerically-superior force.

Taiwan Defence Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang told reporters that the island is speeding up the development and production of drones.

“Responding to the present enemy threat and using the general experience of drones in the Ukraine-Russia war, in order to construct an asymmetric combat power for our country’s drones, the defense ministry is speeding up research and development and production of various drones,” Sun said.

The military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology is taking the lead in the development push and will be including civilian companies, he added.

Chi Li-ping, director of the institute’s Aeronautical Systems Research Division, detailed drones in development for the military, including for reconnaissance purposes.

“Our country’s drones have already reached international standards when it comes to their type, abilities and relevant technology,” he said.

In a report to parliament last year, the institute laid out plans for the missiles and drones it has in development, while the defense ministry has previously announced plans to start manufacturing unspecified “attack drones.”

Taiwan has also had to deal with Chinese drones which have buzzed Taiwan-controlled islands off the Chinese coast.