Thu, Feb 19, 2015 - Page 1 News List

US military drone policy seen as good for Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGON

A Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology employee launches a small Cardinal unmanned aerial vehicle during an open day at the institute’s Aeronautical Systems Research Division campus in Taichung on Dec. 9 last year.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The announcement by the US Department of State on Tuesday that Washington will begin selling armed drones to its allies could be positive for Taiwan and its defense efforts.

Sources familiar with US-Taiwan military ties say the new approach is a potentially positive signal for Taiwan, especially given Taipei’s belief that drones can play an important role in helping the nation defend itself.

The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (中山科學研究院), the nation’s main weapons research and development unit, has developed two types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that it displayed in Taichung in December last year.

The 5kg Cardinal Mini-UAV, designed for reconnaissance missions, has a remote control flight range of 8km and can remain in the air for up to an hour at a time, the institute said.

The 317kg Albatross UAV, with a wing span of 8m, can remain in the air for more than 10 hours and has a range of 150km, the institute said.

The Republic of China Army already uses the Albatross, which can be used both during the day and at night.

The global drone market is now worth more than US$6 billion a year, according to a Washington Post report, citing Steve Zaloga, a senior analyst at aerospace research firm Teal Group Corp.

Zaloga said drones commonly used by the US military, such as the Reaper, can cost US$10 million to US$15 million, the newspaper said.

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