Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

MND eyes US-made helicopters, mines

SHOPPING LIST:A ministry official told a legislative committee yesterday that the military is still evaluating the weapons and the US has not yet agreed to sell them

By Aaron Tu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

The military is hoping to purchase MQ-8 Fire Scout uncrewed helicopters and MK-62 Quickstrike mines from the US, a senior Ministry of National Defense official said yesterday.

Department of Strategic Planning Director Wu Pao-kun (吳寶琨) said Taiwan is interested in the weapons systems because they fit perfectly into the armed forces ‘plans to enhance asymmetric warfare capabilities and focus on defending against a possible Chinese invasion.

However, the US has not yet agreed to sell the weapons, Wu told lawmakers during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

“We are still conducting in-depth evaluations,” Wu said.

The MQ-8B Fire Scout, made by Northrop Grumman, is designed to provide reconnaissance and support for aerial fire and precision targeting.

The MK-62 Quickstrike mines are 500lb (227kg) air-dropped sea mines that are programmable, but do not have guidance systems, and are designed to be used against submarines and surface targets.

In related news, the government is to implement a rating system for Taiwanese defense corporations to facilitate defense industry cooperation between Taiwan and the US, a source said on Sunday.

The decision followed talks last week with US representatives at the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Annapolis, Maryland.

Taiwanese officials told other conference participants that the government would create a system to rate corporations by capitalization, number of employees, productivity and informational security, said a source familiar with the Annapolis meeting who wished to remain anonymous.

The system would provide US industries with information they need for cooperative programs or ventures, but details of the system still have to be worked out, the source said.

Officials also discussed making arrangements for Taiwan to make broader use of post-letters of agreement offsets — industry compensation arrangements used when purchasing defense-related articles or services, the source said.

Taiwanese representatives at the conference told US officials and businesspeople that the government would push a national defense sector revitalization bill through the legislature, the source said.

The government would work to reconcile the different opinions from lawmakers and industry about the bill, the source said.

US representatives at the meeting praised the technical capability of Taiwanese companies, but said they were more concerned about Taiwanese firms’ ability to protect intellectual property and technology secrets, the source said.

The Americans also said that Taiwan’s cybersecurity sector is promising, but does not meet US standards at present, the source added.

The central government is to assist local defense firms to improve their information security until they meet or exceed US standards so that they could join the US supply chain, the source said.

Defending information from commercial or state-sponsored espionage would be an important goal for Taiwan, the source said.

Taiwan is scheduled to host the Taiwan-US Defense Business Forum in the middle of next year, the source said, but the attendees would skew on the technical and professional side rather than government officials, the source said.

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