Tue, Feb 03, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Coast guard opens stations

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Coast Guard Administration has activated a number of unmanned short-range radar stations, which boast automatic real-time data transmission and low operation costs, sources said yesterday.

These radar stations are likely to be the first of their kind in the country, since even the military does not operate radar sites without on-site personnel.

The stations have the capability to transmit real-time information via cable, fiber optics or radar waves to regional command centers, where officers categorize and prioritize the data.

They run 24 hours a day, and are one of the coast guard's more impressive achievements since its inauguration more than three years ago.

The stations are part of a radar network which the coast guard has been constructing and which is near completion.

The network is comprised of radar units with a range of 24 nautical miles and have "friend or foe identification" capabilities.

The coast guard does not have radar that extends beyond the 24 nautical-mile range, since it is responsible only for coastal patrol within 23 nautical miles of the shoreline.

Longer-range monitoring of the waters surrounding Taiwan, including the whole of the Taiwan Strait, is performed instead by the navy.

The system, however, does have the potential for security problems.

The unmanned radar stations, the number of which has not been made public, are mostly located in close proximity to military fixtures.

The support provided by the military includes detecting suspicious elements approaching coast guard facilities.

"The unmanned radar stations aim to reduce operation costs. The operation costs are mainly related to personnel -- we used to need at least three men to operate a radar site, but now no one is needed to do the job on site," a senior coast guard official said.

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