A photographer takes photo of the latest home-made MALE Unmanned Aircraft Systems during a press conference of the 2015 Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition at the World Trade Center in Taipei on August 12, 2015. Taiwan will unveil the prototype of its largest military drone to the public at a Taipei convention, a chance for the island to flex its muscles in the face of China’s growing military might. AFP PHOTO/SAM YEH
TAIPEI–Taiwan unveiled the prototype of its largest ever military drone on Wednesday as it seeks to boost its defense forces in the face of a perceived threat from China.
The sleek, white unmanned aircraft is designed for intelligence gathering and surveillance missions, according to the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), an arm of the Ministry of National Defense that is developing the drone.
It is more than twice the size of any of the existing fleet of 32 “Sharp Kite” drones used by Taiwanese forces.
“Our research and development capabilities are definitely not inferior (to China’s),” said Ma Wan-june, director of the aeronautical systems research division at CSIST.
Ma did not say when the prototype is to be put into use or give any further specifications.
“It’s equipped for automatic takeoff and landing, communications, optical detection, among others,” Ma said.
The drone was shown to reporters ahead of the biennial Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition which starts Thursday and is open to the public.
Taiwan in December launched its largest-ever missile ship, the 500-ton corvette named “Tuo Chiang”–the first of its kind to be produced locally.
The ship is armed with 16 missiles including eight supersonic Hsiung-feng III (Brave Wind) anti-ship missiles.
Self-governing Taiwan split from mainland China in 1949 after a civil war. But Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory and does not rule out force to achieve reunification at some stage.
According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, China has more than 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles trained on the island.