Thu, Mar 28, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Army communication system to undergo field testing

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A recently-deployed US-made tactical communication system is to be tested for the second time next month after a disastrous first test last year.

The defense committee made the request for the second test during a closed-door session yesterday, where lawmakers discussed whether to unfreeze the army's NT$5.1 billion budget for the purchase of several more units of the Improved Mobile Subscriber Equipment (IMSE) communication system

Committee lawmakers, unable to make a decision on the budget during yesterday's meeting, reached an agreement to test the system in the field next month before deciding whether to support the army's plan to buy more IMSE units.

The test will take place at the same time as the Han Kuang No. 18 exercise.

The IMSE the army has deployed is with the 6th corps in northern Taiwan. It plans to deploy more in central and southern areas.

The first test late last year was a total failure, with the system unable to function for several hours after it was moved to new positions from pre-selected ones.

That test resulted in the decision to freeze the budget for the purchase of more IMSE units. Former lawmaker and retired Lieutenant General Chou Cheng-chih (周正之), who was one of the legislators to witness the first test and asked for the IMSE to be moved, said he did so to find out whether the system was as mobile as claimed.

"The result showed the system can be mobile only under favorable conditions. We can not imagine how the system would help the army win on the battlefield," Chou said.

Not surprisingly, Chou was one of the lawmakers most strongly against the plan to buy more IMSEs.

Although Chou failed to win another term in December, his doubts about the capability of the IMSE remain influential.

If the second test result is similar to the first, it will be hard for lawmakers to support the plan to purchase more of the units, a lawmaker with the defense committee said.

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