A major military procurement prompted concerns over the leaking of proprietary technology that could endanger the lives of military personnel, which were raised by officials when an order for army combat boots was changed to allow its production in foreign nations.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that the procurement was for 141,100 pairs of CB-99 combat boots, made from a combination of leather and canvas, and with a “digital camouflage” coating developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST).
The Ministry of National Defense’s Armaments Bureau 205th Factory called for the CB-99 combat boots to be made in Taiwan.
However, after the tender process was completed, Armaments Bureau officials agreed to the contractor’s request to produce the boots in Vietnam and Malaysia.
Ministry data showed the total budget for the purchase was NT$119.94 million (US$3.64 million).
A military official, who declined to be named, yesterday said it is a concern that the CB-99 combat boots are to be produced in foreign nations, because the “digital camouflage” coating and its chemical ingredients use proprietary technology, including anti-infra red detection.
Military equipment with digital camouflage combines micro and macro-patterns, created using computer-assisted graphic programs for a pixelated appearance, which helps objects to blend into the background over long distances and prevent detection by enemy troops.
The official said that the chemical ingredients and the camouflage patterns are still considered a state secret by CSIST scientists, adding that producing the boots in Vietnam and Malaysia could lead to such information being leaked.
“If so, China would able to obtain such proprietary technology for its own benefit. Furthermore, the Chinese military can then analyze the chemical spectrum produced by this specific type of digital camouflage. If military confrontation was to occur, China’s People’s Liberation Army would be able to lock on to the spectrum, making soldiers wearing these boots an easy target,” the official said.
The ministry said in a statement released later yesterday that the Armaments Bureau entered a confidentiality clause into the agreement, which guarantees the protection of proprietary information.
“The procurement was done in accordance with the regulation of the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法). If the contractor violates the contract, they will be prosecuted by law,” the statement said.
However, a retired army officer said confidentiality clauses in military contracts do not deter leaking of information, because they do not specify punishments.
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