Taiwanese observers to attend Black Dart counterdrone exercises in US

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 3

Taiwan has been invited to attend the US military’s Black Dart counterdrone exercise in June next year, a Ministry of National Defense official said on Sunday.

Black Dart is a live-fire exercise held annually at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida where troops target drones, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Four Taiwanese military observers are expected to attend the exercise along with observers from other nations and compile a report on US counterdrone tactics for the military’s consideration, he said.

The first Black Dart exercise was held in 2002 and it became an annual exercise following the success of the initial event, with an increasing number of foreign nations invited to send observers, the official said.

Black Dart constantly updates its tactics and arsenal to keep abreast of the latest emerging threats, and US troops tested 55 countertactics in the exercises in 2015, he said.

Every conceivable weapon was used to engage drones, including jamming signals, sniper fire from helicopters, .50 caliber machine guns, 20mm cannons and Hellfire missiles, the official said.

The rapid development of drone technology makes threats difficult to anticipate, the official said.

“In recent years, there have been unauthorized drones flying over the White House, North Korean spy drone incursions into South Korea and the dropping of radioactive materials on the Japanese prime minister’s lawn,” the official said.

Suspicious drone activity has been reported at Taiwan’s airports, military bases, Taipei 101 and other landmarks, and countering drones is a pressing issue of law enforcement and national security, he said.

The military is under Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuang’s (馮世寬) orders to shoot any drones intruding on military bases, making Black Dart relevant to the armed forces’ needs, he said.