The US is to help Taiwan obtain NATO’s Link-22 secure data link system, a Ministry of National Defense official said on Thursday.
Lee Shih-chiang (李世強), head of the ministry’s Department of Strategic Planning, made the statement at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs nd National Defense Committee following a local media report that the military is seeking to acquire the NATO system.
Link-22 is a secure digital radio system that is primarily used by military forces as a tactical data link. It is able to provide beyond line-of-sight communications that interconnects air, surface, subsurface and ground-based tactical data systems, while also facilitating the exchange of tactical data among the military units of participating nations.
Photo courtesy of the NATO Improved Link Eleven Project Management Office
Lee was also asked whether NATO’s secure system would be interoperable with the tactical data systems used by Taiwan’s military.
Lee said there were no problems with its own data link systems, but Link-22 enables a direct data link with the US military.
Sources have said that Taiwan is seeking to upgrade its existing system to Link-22, aiming to integrate the command and control systems, missiles and platforms developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology.
Chieh Chung (揭仲), an associate research fellow with the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said that Taiwan’s data link system is based on Link-16.
Link-22, an upgraded version, boasts greater anti-jamming capabilities and improves command efficiency, while providing faster communications transmissions, Chieh added.
The NATO system can complement and interoperate easily with Link-16, Chieh said.
In the event of an attack, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army would definitely attempt to jam Taiwan’s communications systems through electronic warfare and Link-22 could help prevent that, he said.
Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that NATO’s Link-22 was designed to improve the performance of Link-11, as it works on high frequency and ultra-high-frequency bands that can operate long distances without the need for a satellite.
Link-22 features an automatic grouping function that can fully map out the positions of enemy and friendly forces via a common operational picture, Su said.
The system’s long-distance transmission capability would greatly improve Taiwan’s combat effectiveness, while strengthening strategic, operational and tactical applications, he added.
Politically, if the US agrees to help Taiwan upgrade to the Link-22 system, that would mean NATO members have agreed to it, Chieh said.
Sources familiar with the matter said that China’s XS-3 and DTS-03 data link systems are superior to Taiwan’s Link-16.
The US assisting Taiwan in upgrading to Link-22 would be of great benefit to national defense and future military cooperation, the sources said.
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