Tag Archives: military

[Taiwanese ‘indigenous’] Submarine prototype could be ready ahead of schedule – Taipei Times Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

The Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) prototype is expected to undergo a harbor acceptance test in September, a sea acceptance test in February next year and, if it passes, be delivered to the navy in the first half of 2025 instead of November 2025, defense officials said yesterday. The goal of the IDS program is to create a fleet of nine to 11 domestic diesel-electric submarines that would defend the waters around Taiwan, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The boat would be 70m long, 8m wide and 18m high, including the conning tower, and have a displacement of 2,500 tonnes to 3,000 tonnes, the officials said. It would have a pair of stabilizing fins on the sides of the conning tower and an X-shaped tail rudder, they added. The submarine’s weapons would include 18 MK 48 Mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes and an undisclosed number of Harpoon missiles, they said.

Whether or not this Taiwanese “indigenous” submarine program began as such, it is now best understood as a subset of AUKUS+Japan. Someday someone ought to write a book using the decades of back and forth between Taiwan and the US re: submarines – as a microcosm to illustrate the self-contradictory positions the US has taken regarding the status and future of Taiwan.

For 2023, the key facts are these. Decades of observing major Taiwanese military projects, given the nature of Taiwanese domestic politics and sustained information warfare sponsored by the Chinese Communist Party, I have never witnessed a Taiwanese multinational, complex, major military project that has leaked as little, and, for now, sustained as few charges of graft and irregularities, as this submarine project. During the democratic era of Taiwanese national history, President Tsai is the first democratically elected president who managed significant control over the national security apparatus.

These Taiwanese submarines also reflect a broader change in US-Japan-led vision for the Indo-Pacific – changes in military thinking and the status of Taiwan yes – less commented upon but just as significant as the revolutionary changes in multinational industrial policy. In this perhaps the size of the China Threat coupled with the lessons from Ukraine have finally forced leaders in the global democracies to rethink decades of “neoliberal” orthodoxy – free market, invisible hand, creative destruction – fascinating theories, important forces in world history, but there are realms in public policy, pandemic abatement, public health, national security, where one must sacrifice efficiency for resilience and reliability.

And so, while the AUKUS nucular submarines are the big ticket system to illustrate changes in thinking, many many other systems weave a complex global re-think in national security supply chains. From semiconductors. To HIMARS munitions. To 155mm rounds. To AMRAAMs and Patriots and AGM-158s and Javelins and Stingers and Mk.46s and Mk 48s. Looking for a new balance between national security, and responsibility to shareholders-the market, while ensuring there is enough global manufacturing, storage capacity, and resilience to respond to the challenge China poses. And, related to this overall concept, how to stretch out the R&D and small batch production lifecycle of each weapon, across time and nations, to sustain improvement and capacity while improving global resilience.

Sometime this past week it was reported that it will take the US another five years to increase its annual production rate for its attack submarines from 1.5 per year to 2. Modern wars are industrial wars. This is the weak link among the democracies, as they navigate populism and elections, how to remain democratic yet sustain important, not particularly popular national security public policy projects over the decades. 2.4.2023 Taipei, Taiwan.

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【台灣國】國防MIT》各型飛彈產量去年逾800枚 中科院16條生產線量能全開, Taiwanese NCIST 16 missile production lines with an annual production of 1,000 missiles in 2023 – 自由時報 Liberty Times Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms


Without a breakdown of which missiles are produced in what quantity annually, it is difficult to assess the significance of “1,000” – though it is a good sign that Taiwan Republic, Japan, and US are all addressing the logistics of a war against China. Taiwanese “indigenous” missiles are a product of the peculiar stage in Taiwan-US-China relations – a product of compromise and the fictional One China status quo. I wonder if policymakers in DC have seriously studied and throught through the implications of having the Taiwanese continue this dual track – purchasing/importing US-made missiles while investing in domestically manufactured missiles. Perhaps the blurb from the recent US-Taiwan military talks about “enhancing munitions coproduction” is a way to discuss this issue – from economies of scale, to whether NCIST missiles are more vulnerable to Chinese communist infiltration and sabotage, to obstacles to interoperability with Japanese and American units. An example: during the war can the US-made Patriots efficiently coordinate with the Taiwanese TK2 and TK3 surface-to-air missiles? How about Taiwanese naval units using American Harpoons and Taiwanese HF series? Or Taiwanese artillery units using Taiwanese MLRS and soon-to-be imported American HIMARS?

A final observation: while it is good that Taiwan’s CSIST is moving away from the “handcrafted” model of manufacturing missiles into the modern mass assembly, one of the many chasms between the Taiwan military and Taiwanese democracy is in this island nation’s economic dynamism and know-how, and how isolated the military remains. Simple question: should a quasi-state military research entity like CSIST even manufacture missiles? Or would it be best to adopt the model from Israel, or Singapore, or South Korea, or Japan, have CSIST coordinate strategic level priority weapon systems research, and subcontract manufacturing to private or public-private corporations? 10.2.2023

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[President] Tsai reinstates one-year conscription [for Taiwan] – Taipei Times: Geostrategery, politics, and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

Many people have stereotypical views of mandatory service based on their own experience, but the training regimen has undergone drastic changes, Tsai added. To ensure conscripts undergo appropriate training and do not waste time during the longer service period, they would undergo more intense and longer boot camp training to boost their combat preparedness, the president said. Boot camp training is to be extended to eight weeks from five, and is to include physical fitness and exercise, as well as weapons and combat training. Standard courses would focus on discipline, equipment maintenance, basic training and stress training, while physical training would include basic fitness, grenade throwing and a 500m obstacle course. Physical training is to incorporate science-based learning for health management and muscle-building. The arms training section would increase the number of shots fired from 104 to 160 to ensure that recruits know the differences between weapons and how firing position affects accuracy. Combat training is to focus on combat techniques, field medicine and what to do in the event of a biological or nuclear disaster, while the training regimen for recruits is to include marches, camp setting and other skills. The Ministry of Education is in talks with local universities and colleges to develop ways to make the higher-education curriculum more flexible so that conscripts can complete their required one year of service while studying, Tsai said. That would allow them to avoid postponing plans to enter the job market due to the longer military service requirement, she said.

Depending on what ‘altitude’ you fly over news items, for most international news outlets Taiwan reinstating year-long conscription feeds into the “rising tensions-most dangerous place on earth” storyline. And for domestic Taiwan news, arguments about which party made this move necessary, whether American pressure is behind this change if this means the youth vote will shift for 2024, etc etc.

To me, this is classic President Tsai and why I am a supporter. Smart policymaking, aggravatingly careful and slow and boring, good for Taiwan’s democracy, not likely to win her praise or many votes. Kind of like her green energy policy. Legalizing gay marriage. Pension reforms. Pandemic abatement. The opposite of the kind of quick, easy-to-understand modern storytelling to rile up populist emotions.

I have no faith in the ability and resolve of the China KMT dictatorship-dominated Taiwan national security establishment, though I know if they are good at one thing, it is to use their bureaucratic skills to kill reform efforts pushed by civilian, democratically elected leaders. So we will see.

It is politically smart to give the mostly superficial domestic Taiwan press the massively raised salary of the conscripts as their headlines. Once you listen to the press conference and read the details the most encouraging facet of this new policy is the recognition that the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense requires revolutionary change and improvements – a breakthrough for the democratically elected president of Taiwan to acknowledge that former draftees felt their time and talent were not fully respected and utilized by the military, to be smart about using this year-long conscription wisely, to import training regimes (and important, doctrines and concepts) from the US and other leading democracies, to think about how the volunteer military and conscripts enhance one another. This is a difficult and important first step – future elections will determine whether the momentum to democratize and reform the Taiwan military will continue.

An additional breakthrough is in how rapidly and directly the praise came from the American embassy in Taipei – without regard for the thin skin-ness of the Chinese communists and their allies inside Taiwan and in the west. This gets me back to my earlier point that folks generally focus on the headline numbers of the NDAA and aid to Taiwan, I have been fascinated by the detailed plans on interoperability and the “software” of national security – personnel, advisors, new mentality. California and Florida National Guards heroically trained Ukrainian officers – Hawaii National Guard has been paired with the Taiwanese military, is this the model we will see with new, modern training for the conscripts and volunteers alike? And again, having seen too many bright-eyed Taiwanese patriots graduate from West Point, Annapolis, and US Air Force Academy only to file for early retirement due to a reactionary and hyper-bureaucratic Taiwan military leadership. We will see, and we hope for the best. No shortage of talent and vitality from the bottom up in a democracy such as Taiwan – the bottleneck is within Taiwan’s military leadership.

An additional thing to ponder is this paradox of Taiwan. A medium small-ish nation. An oceanic, island democracy with a history of heterodoxy and not following imperial rules. Taiwanese businesspeople are notoriously creative and flexible. Taiwanese cuisine and music and literature are hybrid and ever-changing. The parts of Taiwan dominated by the China KMT dictatorship are reactionary, uncreative, haughty, stuck in trench warfare mentality – hyper-bureaucratic, better to get fifteen stamps than five, hurry up and wait – these facets of Taiwan public life exist in a parallel universe with the vibrant, democratic, can-do democracy that grew up around this China KMT dictatorship.

So I have been wondering about creatively deconstructing how the Taiwan public health – less dominated by the China KMT dictatorship because during the martial law era this was a safe harbor for educated Taiwanese – could serve as a model for how a reformed Taiwanese military could democratize and harness the creativity and energy of this democratic nation. Taiwanese public health and healthcare were not flawless during this pandemic – yet compared to the Taiwan military, it has been far more flexible and responsive to criticism and suggestions from citizens, civilian authorities, and foreign experts. Pandemic management had features and characteristics that are warfare-like – the “enemy” was not just the virus, but foreign and domestic bad actors, fear, rumors, anxiety, and fake news. What is it about the Taiwanese public health leadership, bureaucracy and regulation, institutional culture, and how it relates to the rest of this democracy, that enabled it to successfully meet these challenges? And what lessons might the democratically elected civilian leaders of Taiwan seeking to democratize and reform the Taiwan national security establishment draw from this model? 28.12.2022

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台灣首艘原型自製潛艦 台船:明年9月下水 First Taiwanese ‘indigenous’ submarine to be launched by September 2023 – 自由時報 Liberty Times: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

〔記者洪定宏/高雄報導〕台船公司今天發布新聞稿指出,總統蔡英文交付台船執行史無前例的「潛艦國造」任務,雖然過程中外界多所揣測、評價,無論正面肯定抑或是曲解錯誤認知,台船仍全力、全工時趕工,目標明(2023)年9月下水。據了解,國造潛艦原型艦的設計藍圖即有700多份,並採用雙殼、部分單殼的混合艦殼,以及X型尾舵的構型設計,總排水量2000餘噸,可搭載MK48 MOD6 AT重型魚雷及潛射魚叉反艦飛彈,有效反制中共水面艦艇。

Even though Taipei appears full of doom and gloom over President Tsai’s electoral defeats during the recent local elections, future historians will study this ‘indigenous’ Taiwanese submarine project as an example of her administration’s success.

If the project proves successful, President Tsai and her team would have overcome decades – since the 1960s – of American, Chinese communist, China KMT interference and sabotage against a Taiwanese submarine fleet. No doubt rapidly shifting geopolitical realities enabled the change in American policy. This shift then brought along critical technology from other democratic allies, the UK, maybe South Korea, maybe Japan, and others. I remain fascinated and a bit confused at the relatively muted reactions from the Chinese communists and their allies inside Taiwan – is this because they have other problems and crises to deal with, or do they have other angles?

What remains true is this, if we compare the three democratically elected Taiwanese presidents, Lee, Chen, and Tsai – a bureaucracy of Taiwan’s central government, particularly the national security establishment, ensconced in decades of China KMT party-state external authoritarian occupation, a similar project under Presidents Lee and Chen that did not leak like a sieve would have been unimaginable. The relative success of the Tsai administration in preventing the vestiges of the authoritarian bureaucracy from sabotaging this project has been a noticeable success in Taiwan’s democratic consolidation.

As to whether or not these ‘indigenous’ (even a global empire like the US can no longer manufacture high-end weapons without global supply chains and know-how, much less Taiwan ….) submarines will deter and defeat a Chinese invasion – are eight enough? Should they be paired with unmanned underwater vehicles? Should they be armed with defensive and offensive ordinances? Are they linked with other Taiwanese military units as well as US and Japanese units? Maybe the first step in a genuine democratization of the Taiwanese military is to have an open national debate on why the Taiwanese Navy has been circling in step since the 1990s – unable to match the surface nor subsurface fleets of the region? In this, I suspect advice and know-how from American and Japanese officers will play a critical role in ensuring the money invested in hardware such as submarines will be properly deployed during a future war to defend Taiwanese sovereignty and democracy – a kind of AUKUS+ regional submarine chain – Australian and Japanese long-range submarines plus smaller Taiwanese and others to contain the China threat. This is also where the significance of the US NDAA is never about money or hardware/weapons per se, but the infusion of American expertise into the stagnate and reactionary Taiwan national security establishment. 27.12.2022

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Bibliography: US defense bill authorizes fellowships [of American officials to Taiwan] – Taipei Times: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms 

MILITARY GRANTS ADDED: Ten US officials per year are to study Mandarin and local issues, and return to Washington to bolster understanding of Taiwan’s needs. The US Senate on Thursday passed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is to set up a fellowship for US federal employees to work in Taiwanese government agencies, in addition to greenlighting US$2 billion in annual military grants to Taiwan. The first year is to be spent studying Mandarin and related topics, followed by a year working in a government agency, legislative office or approved organization related to their field of expertise, the Taiwan Fellowship Act says. At least 10 fellows from the three branches of the US government — executive, legislative and judicial — are to be selected annually. In the first two years of the program, no fewer than five fellows are to be selected, the bill says. Returnees would be required to continue serving in the US government for at least four years after completing the program, with the goal of enhancing understanding of Taiwan’s central government and regional issues, it says. The American Institute in Taiwan would be required to begin negotiations with Taiwanese agencies within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. The legislation is modeled after the Mansfield Fellowship Program between the US and Japan. Under that program, established in 1994, US government employees are provided more than one year of Japanese-language education and placed in a Japanese agency, where they work full-time for 10 months alongside Japanese colleagues.

While the headlines and focus will be about the amount of US military aid to Taiwan Republic, and the weapon systems transferred, to me this is the most significant breakthrough in this year’s NDAA. Ten American officials per year to Taiwan is not significant – the mental-psychological breakthrough on the part of DC – the real pivot to the Indo-Pacific, understanding the China threat, and realizing the nature of the Chinese threats against democratic Taiwan – those are decades in the making. And one suspects once the breakthrough occurs, more will (and should) follow.

Even just the simple yet monumental step of normalizing the interactions between these two democratically elected national governments of America and Taiwan – official to official, bureaucracy to bureaucracy.

If the billions in direct military aid authorized by the NDAA are funded, and if the Biden administration does not waste more time fighting Congress, then I would expect more American advisors and officials to follow that money. I cannot find a previous case where Congress authorized large military foreign aid without request from the foreign party – nor was such an amount being transferred without direct US involvement (advisors, etc.) Because humans always refer to the most recent historical experience as a template, I have read many articles referring back to the US-RoC Mutual Defense Treaty/US Advisor era. Times change, the nature of the governments are different, and characteristics of modern warfare shift – the era of large contingents of US and Japanese troops stationed in Taiwan makes little sense. Rapidly rotating in units for realistic training and coordination – advisors in key units, teams from the US and Japan to help locate and fix weakest links in Taiwanese strategic and tactical planning, intelligence and counterintelligence, logistics, civil defense, sabotage, and infiltration, etc., in 2023 these will make more difference to the security of the Indo-Pacific and countering the China threat than anything else.

Five Notable Items for Asia Watchers in the National Defense Authorization Act

美參院83:11壓倒性通過// 挺台國防授權法案 送拜登簽署

美參院通過國防授權法案 提供台灣百億美元軍援

U.S. Senate passes annual defense bill with Taiwan provisions

US bill features up to US$10bn for Taiwan security

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US House passes US$12bn aid for Taiwan military, Taipei Times: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes up to US$12 billion in grants and loans to Taiwan to buy US weapons over the next five years. The bill passed the Democratic Party-controlled House on a 350 to 80 vote. It is expected to clear the Senate next week before being sent to the White House for US President Joe Biden to sign into law. The act would authorize up to US$2 billion in annual grants from next year to 2027, and an additional US$2 billion in loans for Taiwan to use to bolster its military capabilities with weapons from the US. It also authorizes a regional contingency stockpile for Taiwan that consists of munitions and other appropriate defense articles costing up to US$100 million a year for use in the event of a conflict.

Have we ever had a case in American history where a designated aid nation did not request aid, and US Congress generously, voluntarily provide such a massive amount? And instead of debating whether this is good policy, perhaps the first prudent thing to do is to ponder what is going on in this moment of world history that such an unusual move has been taken.

Novices and bad actors will focus on the dollar amount, while experts and those with a sincere desire to protect democracy in the Indo-pacific will notice that the direct military aid is only the tip of a very large spear against the China threat — technology, education, trade, democracy, law enforcement, intelligence, and counterintelligence, etc. are other realms where this global struggle are occurring.

The most important part of the NDAA is Congress forcing a lumbering executive branch to pivot to face the China threat for real — i.e., increasing production of critical munitions, money for base protection, a stockpile of critical munitions in the region, etc. Novices and bad actors will focus on allegedly “provoking” the Chinese communists and rising tensions even though the communists are experts at self-provocation — they will fuss about budget and deficit, and they will spread lies that the Taiwanese prefer to surrender. Experts from this point on will avoid focusing on weapons sold and transferred, and see if Congress is able to force the executive branch and the Pentagon to do real interoperability — i.e., to abandon the idiocy of Jimmy Carter and invite the Taiwanese military to participate in US-Japan-Australian-NATO exercises. I wonder, and this is speculation on my part – would the US government voluntarily grant this massive amount of foreign military aid without sending American military advisors? Taiwan’s archaic and dated military leaders require a push and a nudge re: modern warfare – rapid pace, technology-centered, intelligence-counterintelligence, modern logistics, and creativity. What the Taiwan military leadership requires most, and perhaps this is where American, Japanese, and European advisors can best provide, is the lesson of Ukraine – a national military divorced from the democracy of its nation cannot and will not fight. Taiwan’s national security establishment requires democratization so that it can absorb and adhere to the strengths of the democracy it is suppose to protect.

I am against large US military presence in Taiwan, having nothing to do with the easily hurt feelings of the Chinese in China and the Chinese in Taiwan — but that it makes little tactical and strategery sense. Quick and thoughtful public and routinized rotations of American and Japanese units in and out of Taiwan to work on interoperability and training, with a small officer-advisor corp in Taiwan as advisors to the Ministry of National Defense and Taiwan’s democratically elected civilian leaders, and massive munitions and platforms depot in the area ready for the fight immediately are hopefully enough to deter the communists.

Now that the American aid is here, Taiwan must increase its annual war budget by the same amount — we have to increase our war budget so that our American congressional allies will have cover from domestic bad actors, united front fellow travelers. All multinational policies regarding the China threat is to prevent Beijing from even considering starting a war of annexation against Taiwan.

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Taiwanese Navy’s first ‘indigenous’ submarine scheduled for 2024 潛艦國造路迢迢 原型艦2024年下水 Liberty Times: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms


A history of why the Taiwanese Navy, in 2022, is still using two World War Two era GUPPY II conventional submarines would be a fascinating book – covering dictator Chiang Kai-shek’s delusional dreams of recovering his fictional China, to US Cold War policies, to misguided US policies on offensive versus defensive weapons, to the complications of Taiwanese domestic politics during the democracy era, that one of the two major political parties – the China KMT – has a national identity crisis (and hence, blocked the conventional submarine project for a decade.)

For a leaky Taiwanese national security scene, I have been impressed with how tightly the Tsai administration has held information on this ‘domestic’ submarine project. The fewer leaks the better, not just for the submarines project, but a sign that systemic problems in the national security apparatus are being fixed. While there were rumors of South Korean, or maybe Japanese involvement, recent reports indicate that the US and UK are the primary actors – with the recent British parliamentarians visiting Taipei indicating that discussions were held re: the submarines most interesting. A kind of soft AUKUS+ emerging – nuclear submarines for Australia and maybe Japan, conventional submarines for Taiwan.

What remains missing, I think, is a discussion-debate inside Taiwan, and then between Taiwan and its democratic allies, on an overall strategy to deter and defeat the China threat. Are eight submarines enough? Should they have offensive cruise missile capabilities? Are the submarines designed to operate with CSIST’s mini/unmanned underwater vehicles? Are they designed with interoperability with the Japanese and American Navy?

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Taiwan’s Jong Shyn Shipbuilding and American Lockheed Martin signs MOU to build warships for ASEAN nations 洛馬將委託中信造船造艦 售予東協國家: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

美國軍武大廠洛克希德馬丁公司(Lockheed Martin;簡稱洛馬)已與高雄中信造船(2644)簽署合作備忘錄(MOU),未來將委託中信造船建造軍艦艦體,再由洛馬公司安裝武器系統,交付給印尼、馬來西亞及菲律賓等東協國家,以強化這些國家海軍實力,因應南海日趨緊張情勢。中信造船董事長韓碧祥低調証實此事,表示只要洛馬下單,中信造船會立即備料騰出產能,滿足美方的需求。中信造船的造艦實績與品質受到洛馬公司注意,先前曾派員到高雄考察工廠及相關設備,並與中船造船負責人詳談,經美國總公司評估認可後,已與中信造船簽署備忘錄。洛馬在2022年5月再度派員到高雄中船造船廠,現場勘查船塢設備,並再中信造船負責人及主管晤談,委託造艦業務將視美國政府與南海諸國協商後,隨時都會展開。中信造船目前有4個造船船塢,最大造船噸位5萬噸,過去已承造過3000噸級、2000噸級及1000噸級巡防救難艦,目前海巡署委託的12艘600噸級安平級(原型為沱江艦)正建造中,已有5艘交船下水執行海巡任務。

Taiwanese shipbuilder responsible for its double-hulled fast attack corvette has signed an MOU with Lockheed Martin for Taiwan to build the hulls while Lockheed Martin coordinates and fits their weapons and sensors. These small naval ships will be sold to Southeast Asian nations. The fact that usually hypersensitive to Beijing’s opinion Southeast Asia may be involved is fascinating. If this deal proceeds accordingly, this is good news for Taiwanese and regional security – anything which further integrates democratic and independent Taiwan into the US-Japan-led global democratic supply chain is good. Not clear if this is a part of the purposeful news leak from the latest Taiwan-US military summit where the US plans to collaborate on weapons manufacturing. Also, a very good sign that a civilian, nonstate-owned Taiwanese shipbuilder is involved in this deal. Previous plans to integrate aviation and aircraft maintenance with global arms suppliers faced stiff resistance from Taiwan’s archaic and complicated military-state (and formerly, authoritarian China KMT party) owned enterprises. Israel, South Korea, and Singapore are three good models of small-mid sized nations surrounded by larger hostile powers, and how they have focused their resources and rationalized the collaboration between military-state led R&D, civilian corporations and manufacturing, and links to global military supply chains.

An important part of Taiwan’s democratic consolidation is to push into the last mile – the national security apparatus is the most resistant to democratic change and modern transformation. This is also the sector where modern management techniques and manufacturing would go a long way in aiding Taiwan to modernize its own domestic arms manufacturing. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated, even a global superpower like the United States cannot manage the logistical challenges of a modern medium-intensity war alone – so it serves vital American national security interests to coordinate with global democracies such as Taiwan, Japan, Korea, EU partners by creating a global arms supply chain. We hope for peace of course, but any potential democracies versus authoritarian China conflict in the future will be far more intense than the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The ability of the US, Japan, Taiwan, and democratic allies to restock high-end high technology munitions (THAAD, Patriots, AMRAAM, etc.) in a high-intensity war will play a critical role in any future conflict in the region. 24.11.2022

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Bibliography: Taiwanese antiradiation UAVs with a range over 1,000 km capable of striking Chinese coastal radar systems 劍翔無人機 可攻擊中國沿岸雷達: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

〔記者涂鉅旻/台中報導〕因應中共解放軍威脅,國軍持續強化「不對稱戰力」,中科院昨對外展示無人機研發成果,其中,「劍翔」反輻射無人機現已進行量產,中科院首度公開實機與性能諸元,中科院航空所長齊立平表示,「劍翔」無人機的攻擊距離可超過一千公里、滯空五小時,俯衝攻擊時速更可達五、六百公里。劍翔機 俯衝時速逾500公里 – 國防部自今年至二○二六年執行二三六九億餘元的「海空戰力提升計畫採購特別預算」,其中一一九億餘元投入量產「劍翔」無人機。國軍規劃,這型無人機年產量可達四十八架以上,並區分尋標、攻擊二型機,可偵蒐敵雷達輻射訊號後,高速撞擊摧毀敵目標,且壓制目標包含中共沿岸、內陸及海上雷達。中科院也首度公布「劍翔」無人機確切諸元,齊立平表示,「劍翔」反輻射無人機若採直線飛行,其攻擊距離超過一千公里,可滯空五小時,若距離敵目標五百公里,則尚有約五百公里的餘裕,可於目標區上方盤旋。而「劍翔」無人機飛行時速約兩百公里,俯衝攻擊階段時速則可達五百至六百公里左右。

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense is at least two decades late in terms of unmanned vehicles – in the air, at sea and submersed, for coastal defense. The gap between Taiwan’s vibrant and creative civil society – economy, commerce, technology, innovation – and its national security establishment cannot be wider than in the UAV sector. And I suspect while the obvious gaps are in the hardware, the greater threat to Taiwan’s national security exists in the ‘software’ – strategy, tactics, openness to new ideas, thinking creatively, and learning from the world. The Chinese communist military has invested decades in unmanned technology – the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense is still discussing bayonets. This Ministry of National Defense is reactive, conventional, and prefers copying past practices, refusing to learn from global counterparts such as the Israelis. A Martian traveling to earth in the 1990s and assessing the balance of power between communist China and democratic Taiwan, would surely assume smaller Taiwan would focus its energy and attention on unmanned vehicles. That it is 2022 and Taiwan’s national security apparatus has barely just started – much less engaging its talented civilian sectors in a wide-ranging discussion of strategy and tactics, is astonishing. Though, better late than never. 

There are other public policy discussions a democratic nation such as Taiwan should engage in. The role and purpose of CSIST, for example – should it focus on R&D and subcontract the manufacturing to civilian firms? Should it try to engage R&D in all sectors as it appears to do now? In what ways can CSIST play a leading role in placing Taiwanese high-technology manufacturing into the global democratic supply chain? If Taiwanese civilian firms have an edge on CSIST in UAV technology, what are the global best practices to ensure the talent and creativity of the private sectors are harnessed while maintaining national security? As Admiral Lee and others have rightly argued, Taiwan’s democracy requires open and honest discussions and debates on its national security options. 16.11.2022

《TAIPEI TIMES》 New drones to boost military’s capability: institute

攻擊距離超過1000公里 劍翔無人機 實機首公開

104 locally developed Chien Hsiang ‘suicide drones’ to be made by 2025

Taiwan’s NCSIST unveils new single-rotor drone: UAV will be deployed for reconnaissance, surveillance missions

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Reviews: The Overall Defense Concept: An asymmetric approach to Taiwan’s defense, Part Two – Democratizing and modernizing Taiwanese national security台灣的勝算 李喜明: Geostrategery and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

For Part One of the review, see HERE

Admiral Lee’s main argument is that smaller, resource-poor Taiwan’s best defense policy is to transform its national security establishment’s long-held mentality and focus on smaller, mobile, survivable platforms-munitions in all branches while emphasizing resiliency, mobility, and survivability in surveillance, intelligence, and logistics. These are difficult changes because they revolutionize how things have been done within the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense since 1949. These proposals also revolutionize how the nation’s elected leaders and citizens evaluate their national security and express their sense of national pride – pouring concrete and making small mobile communication vehicles and producing thousands of cheap, replaceable drones make national security sense, but challenges the psychology and emotions of all sectors of this nation.

Which gets us to the mystifying process of how the Taiwanese Navy has been pursuing its surface fleet since the early 1980s. I am not a partisan in intra-Taiwan Ministry of National Defense factions and arguments – I find those arguments, dating back to their China days (big northern fleet versus small attack craft southern command ….) tiresome. It is fascinating to think carefully about Admiral Lee’s stillborn manned and unmanned stealth missile crafts versus recent news that once again the Taiwan Navy will reverse course, delay its larger AEGIS/VLS surface vessels, and build smaller non-AEGIS/VLS frigates.

I do not have the professional-academic background to argue which model makes the most sense. Whether Taiwan is better off with a large vessel fleet, small fast attack craft fleet, a combination of both, and/or focus on submarines (and if so, what size and how many ….) I do have the background to conclude that Taiwan has not had an adequate, democratic, public policy debate over such an important issue. Admiral Lee’s argument is that if the US warning that dictator Xi and the Chinese communists want to be ready for a war of annexation no later than 2027 – then quickly getting hundreds of small, cheap, rapidly manufactured missile crafts into service is far more sensible than programs requiring decades. He further makes the argument, convincingly, that the Chinese communists would like nothing more than a grand, conventional, force-on-force battle – reminiscent of how Chiang Kai-shek’s army melted into thin air in 1948-1949 China I think.

And if these smaller frigates take too long to build, require too many sailors to staff, take too long to train to bring online, and are too easily sunk by the Chinese – well then in the same issue of this Taiwan-based military magazine, the additional mystery of Taiwan Navy building a massive amphibious landing vessel. In an ideal world – say if you are cheating in a computer game and money can be infinitely replaced, then sure you buy everything. In the real world, Admiral Lee argues correctly, one needs to prioritize – and the priority is not choosing weapons that make people proud, but choosing weapons that will survive the initial strikes from China and be able to inflict enough damage on the invaders so as to deny them the victory they seek.

But then the peculiar modern history of Taiwan is this. In the early 1980s when Taiwan was still under China KMT martial law military publications began to appear, but military affairs were very much seen as highly confidential, only the military ought to discuss the military. Taiwan has a long history of civilians rightly avoiding politics, military, history, and diplomacy – no one wanted to become yet another political prisoner of the China KMT. This is what I thought of when Admiral Lee pointed out Taiwan is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-end speed seacrafts – one of many, many areas where the democratic, civilian Taiwanese civil society thrives, yet this historically created chasm between the national security establishment and Taiwanese civilians remain. In this sense, the greatest proposal from Admiral Lee’s book is not about a particular model or approach, or a particular weapon or munition – I’ve noticed in publications and online discussions these shorthands, asymmetry, porcupine, Javelins and Stingers. I think the main conclusion from Admiral Lee’s book, and the experience of Ukraine, is that a democracy cannot compartmentalize its national security policies from other realms of democratic policy debates. That in order for a democracy to make difficult national security decisions, in order for the democracy to harness all of its talents, its national security apparatus must be as democratic and modern as the rest of the nation. Admiral Lee pointed to the thriving and creative ship design and building industry in Taiwan – contrast that with the uncreativity and directionlessness of the Taiwan Navy since the 1980s. I see similar gaps in unmanned vehicles (design, manufacturing, deployment-uses), in gaming, in information warfare, etc etc. Taiwanese businesses are perhaps some of the most creative and resilient in global logistics – whereas the Taiwan military has had a reputation for weaknesses in logistics. Democratizing and modernizing the national security establishment are the only ways forward to ensure Taiwan’s national security can withstand the challenge posed by its imperialistic autocratic neighbor.

© Taiwan in World History 台灣與世界歷史. This site grants open access for educational and not-for-profit use. Maps and illustrations are borrowed under educational and not-for-profit fair use. If you are the rights holder and prefer to not have your work shared, please email TaiwanWorldHistory (at) Gmail (dot) com and the content will be removed.

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