Mon, Dec 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Defense needs quality: military R&D head

The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology’s core mission is to execute an independent national defense policy, promote the industrial implementation of the results of defense technology research, and play a leadership role in system supply chain integration, institute president Gao Chung-hsing said in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporters Su Yung-yao, Aaron Tu and Lu Yi-hsuan

Increasing the competitiveness of product transportation would require the support of the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of National Defense and the Bureau of Foreign Trade.

Singapore, Turkey and South Korea are prime examples of defense industries that have been established from the ground up. All three nations focused on creating marketing channels before upgrading their production capacity and capabilities.

In addition, the defense industry relies on government-to-government negotiations regarding legal and financial affairs, such as industrial collaboration, technology exports, local production and loans. This is an area that the government must work on.

LT: The institute has experience in maintaining product quality while fostering the capability of private-sector companies it collaborates with, an aptitude the government demonstrably lacked, as seen in the Ching Fu minesweeper project. What would you suggest the government should do?

Gao: Defense products are by no means consumer electronics and how one manages their supply chain is an important factor.

Private contractors seeking to manufacture military products using common commercial standards, or seeking to make minor profits by using low-quality materials of lesser degree, could only produce second-rate products.

For example, missiles are expected to have at least 30 years of service life with high reliability and must be given excellent maintenance. All the steps in their production and the accountability of documents involved are strictly controlled and reviewed.

Foreign nations are strict with quality control of defense products, and have over the years built up thorough methods to ensure the quality of products.

Take Boeing, for example. It is a private defense contractor, but it has its own quality control personnel stationed at every supplier. They are given great authority and are tasked with organizing work schedules, inspecting documents, conducting on-site inspections, inquiring after personnel training and mandating which equipment are off-limits.

Any supplier that does not comply with Boeing’s demands would have to return all contract fees and perhaps even pay fines. In essence, non-compliance is a net loss for the suppliers, an unacceptable situation for any company.

Large defense contractors are extremely dependent on the management of their supply chain and if such systems are not established, the nation’s defense industry could never keep up with the rest of the world.

LT: How can the nation step up its production capabilities? Would stricter or clearer rules accomplish the task?

Gao: Even the most favorable tender under the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法) would not be able to effect any changes in production quality.

Foreign suppliers try to have contingencies in place to control all risk factors to guarantee production quality and standards.

If we truly wish to improve and elevate the standards of domestic products, industries need to move away from profit-oriented mindset and become product-oriented.

Defense procurement in the US, for example, places great emphasis on the management of supply chains. Not only do defense contractors try to have all angles covered, they also implement thorough regulatory systems.

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