Wed, Jun 13, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Military to boost use of civilian drones

CLARIFICATION:The government is to hold a forum today to solicit advice about enforcement rules governing uncrewed aircraft and the range of their potential uses

By Aaron Tu, Shelley Shan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

People taking part in a military exercise in Taipei on Thursday last week prepare to launch a drone developed by National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The military is seeking to enhance cooperation with private-sector drone operators after civilian drones made an impressive performance in the 34th Han Kuang military exercises, a source said yesterday.

The latest iteration of the annual drill, which took place from June 1 to Friday last week, incorporated private drone operators and manufacturers, who flew reconnaissance missions in several stages, an official said on condition of anonymity.

Civilian drones and operators participated in the drills, with the latter incorporated into military units as uniformed personnel, an arrangement that delivered excellent results and was praised by the participants, the official said.

As a result, the military is pursuing plans that would enhance military-private cooperation in drone operations, the official said, adding that the wartime mobilization of contracted civilian drone operators is among the proposals under consideration.

The military intends to compile a compendium of potential civilian drone assets and might sign open contracts with some to be on standby for wartime mobilization, the official said.

The nation’s annual military spending of US$10 billion is far less than China’s, and incorporating the private sector’s capabilities is an important step toward maximizing the nation’s resources, the official said, adding that capability gaps should be filled by private actors whenever possible.

For instance, civilian construction firms near air force bases were called on to participate in emergency runway repair drills during the exercise, the official said, adding that they also impressed the officials with their professionalism.

While the military is focusing on utilizing civilian capabilities for defense, incorporating contractors into the military’s mobilization plans remains controversial, the official said.

The military would need to comprehensively review its institutional practices before making such decisions, although it plans to make systematic changes to its mobilization plans, the official said.

In related news, the Civil Aeronautics Administration yesterday said that a forum on the innovative application of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) is to be held today to help the government stipulate rules of enforcement when an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act (民用航空法) takes effect in July next year.

Before the government enforces the new regulations, it needs to stipulate rules governing the registration, inspection and certification of UAVs, as well as operator certification, the agency said.

The public and the UAV industry are mostly concerned about how the government would oversee UAVs use and their operators, and whether it could help develop services that use UAVs, the agency said, adding that it is to solicit advice on these topics from participants.

Experts and industry representatives at the forum are to introduce systematic applications of UAVs in a wide range of areas, the agency said, adding that participants would also be informed about the latest trends in UAV technical development and rules of enforcement.

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