Poor communication and surveillance capabilities have awakened interest in the military in blimps equipped with powerful sensors to conduct surveillance over disputed territory, possibly including the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), reports are saying.
According to a recent report in Defense News, interest in acquiring such devices — known as aerostats — to increase the nation’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities increased in the wake of a Sept. 25 incident near the Diaoyutais, during which Japanese Coast Guard vessels engaged in primarily symbolic water cannon exchanges with the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and about 40 Taiwanese fishing vessels.
Citing an unnamed military officer, the report said that the CGA and the navy had struggled to monitor developments during the clashes due largely to limited surveillance capabilities.
The military source said aerostats would be extremely useful if deployed at Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼), located about 55km north of Keelung and 141km east of the Japan-controlled Diaoyutais, as well as on Itu Aba — the largest island in the Spratlys (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) — which is controlled by Taiwan.
However, the source said such deployments would not necessarily constitute further militarization of the islets, because the blimps can also be used for disaster relief, surveillance of civilian maritime vessels, communication and search-and-rescue operations.
Taiwan’s current ISR capabilities in remote areas currently depend on E-2T/K “Hawkeye” early-warning aircraft. Twelve refurbished P-3C “Orion” maritime surveillance aircraft, which Taiwan has purchased from the US, are to augment those capabilities once they enter service starting next year. Taiwan is also developing a number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), some of which could have the ability to conduct surveillance at sea, but remains years away from deploying satellites for maritime surveillance.
However, manned aircraft and UAVs have limited loitering time, and the latter have additional payload restrictions due to their size. As near-fixed devices, aerostats or tethered blimps with an ISR component would provide much greater coverage while being more cost-effective and easier to maintain, Defense News said.
According to the article, US-based TCOM, L.P. has recognized Taiwan’s interest in aerostats and may be actively promoting its products — more specifically, aerostats in the 17m, 22m and 28m range, which can operate at altitudes of 300m, 900m and 1,500m respectively.
Ron Davis, in charge of international development at TCOM, will reportedly visit Taiwan early next year to push for a deal, though the company has not provided confirmation.
The industry source told Defense News that the Navy was especially interested in acquiring the company’s 32m Small Aerostat Surveillance System, which comes equipped with an APG-66SR radar and can detect maritime, air and ground targets within an area of 39km2, while staying aloft for up to 14 days.
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
Two new commuter trains are scheduled to be launched in January next year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday. The acquisition of EMU-900 commuter train cars is part of the railway operator’s plan to replace 589 train cars that have been in operation for more than three decades. The agency has also placed orders to buy 600 intercity train cars. The first batch of 20 EMU-900 cars is to be delivered to the nation in September, although delivery might be delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said. The batch would be formed into two trains of 10
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s