Taiwan Defense Commercial Drones
Inspired by the use of commercial-grade drones in Ukraine, Taipei is mobilizing its commercial Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS) industries for defense production efforts. Commercial-grade UAVs are faster and cheaper to produce than military-grade drones. The successful completion of reconnaissance, search and rescue, and security patrol missions by these drones in Ukraine has increased international demand for commercial-grade UAVs with defense applications.
To meet this growing demand, on November 1, 2022, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) released a notice on its official website to unveil a pilot program to produce commercial-grade UAVs and UASs with defense applications. A cross-agency task force including the Taiwan National Science and Technology Council, the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the MOEA and the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) was created to lead the program, which focuses on five drone types. In December 2022, the task force selected 9 domestic manufacturers to produce UAV prototypes as follows:
- Miniature UAVs: Thunder Tiger Group, GEOSAT Aerospace & Technology and CIRC.
- Surveillance UAVs: MITAC, CIRC and Qisda.
- Targeted Acquisition Capabilities UAVs: MITAC, Strong Engineering Consulting Co., Ltd.
- Land-based Reconnaissance UAVs: Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation and GEOSAT Aerospace & Technology
- Shipborne UAVs: FairTech Corporation and Taiwan UAV Corporation
On March 21, 2023, MOEA issued a press release announcing to offer R&D funding to these companies, which are expected to produce prototypes by the end of July 2023. After testing is completed, mass production is set to begin in 2024.
For the UAS program, NCSIST selected 4 local companies to build active and passive radars and drone interference radars. NCSIST plans to transfer defense technology to firms to co-build radars. By UAS type, the selected manufacturers include:
- Active Radar UAS: Tron Future Tech, Raser Technology Co., Ltd.
- wwPassive Radar UAS: Jet Hand Technology Co., Ltd., Iwavenology.com.tw
- Drone-interference Radar UAS: Jet Hand Technology Co., Ltd., Tron Future Tech.
With the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturing sector and its prowess in artificial intelligence, Taiwan is well positioned to incubate a commercial drone industry poised to be a leader in the production of commercial-grade drones for defense applications. Local industry is looking for licensing, co-design, and co-production with U.S. technology companies, particularly in infrared cameras; high frequency, long range communication modules; military radio transmission technology; and drone flight control software.
U.S. firms interested in connecting with Taiwan customers and partners in the fast-growing drone-related market are welcome to contact the Commercial Section of the American Institute in Taiwan at firstname.lastname@example.org