Title: Taiwan Stepping Up Drone Game to Counter Powerful Foe, China
In a bid to offset the advantages held by a more powerful adversary, Taiwan’s president is turning to Ukraine for inspiration, where the effective use of drones has proven successful. Recognizing that it lags far behind China in terms of drone capabilities, Taiwan is taking decisive steps to bridge the gap and ensure its national security.
Taiwan’s strategy involves recruiting commercial drone makers and aerospace firms to establish a self-sufficient drone supply chain. With this ambitious plan, the country aims to manufacture over 3,200 military-grade drones by mid-2024, encompassing both mini-drones and larger surveillance craft.
Notably, private companies are being enlisted for the first time in the research and development phase of a weapons program, highlighting the urgent need for Taiwan to catch up with China’s vast drone arsenal. While China currently possesses an estimated arsenal of over 50 different drone types, Taiwan’s fleet remains limited, consisting of only four types and a fleet size of “hundreds.”
This move by Taiwan to mass produce drones is part of an escalating military rivalry in Asia. China has been deploying drones extensively as part of its gray-zone warfare campaign around Taiwan, heightening the urgency for Taiwan to enhance its defense capabilities.
Taiwan is vying to develop a “porcupine” strategy, relying on a substantial number of smaller, highly mobile weapons systems instead of relying on a small number of high-cost weaponry. The United States, Taiwan’s main ally, possesses the world’s most advanced military drones and is expected to offer assistance in this endeavor.
China’s prominent role in the global commercial drone market, owing to its commercial-military fusion, has allowed it to gain a competitive edge in drone capabilities. Estimates suggest that China may possess upwards of 40,000 drones by the end of 2023, further highlighting the urgency for Taiwan to bolster its drone capabilities to maintain its regional security.
As Taiwan takes steps to augment its drone capabilities, it aims to learn from Ukraine’s successful integration of drones into its military strategy. By doing so, Taiwan hopes to level the playing field against its more powerful neighbor and secure its position in the increasingly tense political landscape of the Asia-Pacific region.
In an ever-evolving geopolitical landscape, the race for advanced drone technology is becoming a critical factor in shaping military capabilities. Taiwan’s efforts to enhance its abilities are sure to have profound implications not only for its own security but also for the balance of power in the region.
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