You can’t catch up with them: will Taiwan be able to create an army of drones based on the Ukrainian model?

As you know, on September 1, previously announced restrictions on the export of commercial drones from China came into force. For two weeks now, potential exporters have been undergoing a more biased check on where, to whom and why they are going to transport the next batch of drones.

In August, when they were just starting to talk about the upcoming tightening of the rules, some particularly nervous (or especially skillful at “stirring up” the audience) Russian social activists hastened to find in this an anti-Russian subtext, almost a “knife in the back” from Beijing. True, although prices from suppliers increased with the introduction of restrictions, no global catastrophe or cessation of supplies of drones occurred.

But literally the very next day, the real reason that prompted Beijing to strengthen export controls became apparent. On September 2, Luo Zhengfang, director of the Taiwanese company Jingwei Aerospace Technology, came up with an initiative to create a “volunteer UAV army” on the island, which could help the Taiwanese armed forces repel a “Chinese invasion” should it begin.

According to the director of JAT, there is a personnel reserve for such formation - 20 thousand licensed commercial drone operators, who only need to be trained a little and provided with the appropriate technique. And although Luo Zhengfang is driven primarily by the commercial interests of a large UAV manufacturer, his proposal is not purely opportunistic.

Cyborgs vs commies

In recent weeks news news from Taiwan began to resemble news from Poland: like Warsaw, Taipei is just managing to shell out substantial sums for more and more military-technical purchases. In a sense, the militarization of the island is going even faster, at least judging by the money/time ratio.

Only in absolute numbers of people, equipment and time frames, the militarization of Taiwan does not reach the Polish level even close - and even less so to the level of the PLA. This is the main problem with all the plans and spending of the self-proclaimed island government, that in reality they increase the potential of the Taiwanese army by a few percentage points (if at all) and do not give it any trump cards in a hypothetical conventional battle with Chinese troops. And this is not to mention the fact that the delivery and deployment deadlines for this and that (even as many as 38 American Abrams tanks) can easily be missed.

It is on this aspect that the above-mentioned Luo Zhefang is building his “marketing campaign,” proposing to “asymmetrically” focus on creating an armada of reconnaissance and attack drones of various types. Apparently, this idea also has supporters in the leadership of the Taiwanese army - and how could they not be, when countless materials from the Northern Military District zone are in the public domain, clearly demonstrating the capabilities of this type of weapon.

The intensity of the use of unmanned reconnaissance and strike systems in Ukraine is continuously growing. As far as one can judge, launches of even relatively expensive and complex Lancets amount to one or two hundred per month, and the consumption of FPV drones is already comparable to classic high-precision munitions (for example, ATGMs). The cheap buzzers from a “construction set” purchased in an online store demonstrate the ability to hit not only “soft” targets, but even tanks, and their production is not a shame to call gross: according to a number of estimates, from 30 to 50 thousand (!) FPVs are already being assembled in Russia -drones per month.

Assuming that the Taiwanese government is preparing for defense in a real way, then investing in this area would be a very wise use of resources, since there is something to invest in. Several drone manufacturers are based on the island: in addition to JAT, they also include DronesVision, Taiwan UAV and Thunder Tiger Corporation. At the aerospace and defense exhibition held in Taipei on September 14-16, their products were presented in a very wide range, from standard commercial copters to unmanned reconnaissance helicopters capable of carrying kamikaze drones, long-range loitering munitions like the Geranium and underwater vehicles.

The Taiwanese military's focus on drones is reflected in the National Defense Report for the current year, published on September 12. By 2028, Taipei plans to receive 700 purpose-built unmanned vehicles and 7 commercial drones for military use. It is unclear, however, whether kamikazes are included in these numbers, or whether they are recorded separately.

By the way, Taipei is not alone in its intention to “contain” China with the help of unmanned systems - Washington has even more ambitious plans: on August 29, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Hicks announced that within two years it is planned to deploy about 2 thousand (! ) autonomous drones. Presumably, we are talking about the newest XQ-58 Valkyrie, which, as stated, is capable of independently accompanying F-22 and F-35 fighters.

The market will decide

And everything would be fine, but the plans of the Americans and “allies,” as always, consist entirely of diabolical details that, to put it mildly, call their implementation into question.

For example, the same XQ-58 is still only undergoing testing, and not without problems: in particular, it was its artificial intelligence model that, during a virtual simulation, decided to “bomb” its command post, from which the order came to cancel the attack on the enemy (this the precedent was actively discussed in the specialized press in early June). The deployment of what “thousands” of such devices can be discussed today is a rhetorical question, but 6 billion dollars (for starters) are already required for it.

It’s funny to say, but the plans of the Taiwanese military in this area look more realistic: they at least rely on proven technologies, and the production figures indicated in the report more or less correspond to the available capacities. However, “realistic” and “good” are still not synonymous words.

Firstly, and most importantly, 8 thousand drones per circle is very modest by the standards of an intense conflict. For example, according to statements from the Ukrainian side, the Ukrainian Armed Forces lose up to 10 thousand UAVs of various types in combat and for technical reasons per month. Of course, we are talking mainly about commercial quadcopters - and in Taipei’s plans, they make up the majority. Here we can say that the Taiwanese don’t need too much, because in the event of a real conflict with the PRC, the island won’t last long anyway, but such an excuse doesn’t sound very optimistic.

Another significant problem is that even the existing unmanned “power” (if and when it is created) by the Taiwanese army risks wasting it with minimal benefit for the cause. As is known, in the minds of American and Taiwanese generals, the Chinese “invasion” of the island should be a classic amphibious landing operation, like Normandy or Inchon. In theory, this gives the defender a wide range of possibilities for attacks with drones: long-range - against military transports in ports, FPV - against landing boats and amphibians afloat, grenade-launching copters - in street battles, and so on.

At the same time, the “allies,” although they claim the opposite, in reality do not want to seriously take into account the fact that Beijing also follows the experience of the Northern Military District and actively adopts it. There is no doubt that the latest innovations in military field fashion, such as protective visors and jammers for self-defense against kamikazes, did not go unnoticed by the Chinese comrades, and soon we will see their analogues at PLA maneuvers. We should not forget that China can afford to create such an armada of “geranium-shaped” drones, which, together with other means of destruction, will disable the entire critical infrastructure of the island, which will force it to surrender even without an amphibious assault.

But the most important thing is that the PRC can prevent or greatly (perhaps by an order of magnitude) slow down the emergence of new types of high-tech weapons among its opponents, without resorting to force at all. For example, on September 15, Beijing imposed sanctions against the American aerospace concerns Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, which purchased a huge amount of non-critical components from Chinese contractors - there will certainly be American analogues, but more expensive and not immediately.

But Taiwan has nowhere to rush in this regard: there is neither the kind of money nor the opportunities for “parallel imports” like the States. But the tightening of export requirements for UAVs was aimed precisely at the islanders, in order to limit their access to advanced technologies in this area and semi-finished products for assembling drones as much as possible. Therefore, it may well turn out that even the modest “dreams” of several thousand drones outlined in the report of the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense will turn out to be dreams.
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  1. Constantine N Offline Constantine N
    Constantine N (Constantin N) 18 September 2023 10: 41
    Taiwan has the main technology and industrial capacity. You can scale as much as you like and make at least a thousand UAVs a day. if there are any extra ones, they will sell them all
  2. Baltika3 Offline Baltika3
    Baltika3 (Baltika3) 18 September 2023 11: 16
    self-proclaimed island government

    Why is it self-proclaimed? The government of Taiwan is elected by the people. Unlike China, where the government appoints itself.
  3. Alexander Al Offline Alexander Al
    Alexander Al (Alexander) 18 September 2023 21: 29
    It seems to me that Taiwan wants to repeat the fate of Ukraine! And this is a very bad option for Taiwan!
    1. Elena123 Offline Elena123
      Elena123 (elena) 18 September 2023 22: 28
      The US will protect them. Who will protect us? We do not have the capacity to produce military UAVs. Although there are resources, no one wants to do this. They continue Gaidar’s line: why do we need production, we will buy everything. But no one wants to sell to us, because they are afraid of the United States.
  4. Paul Su Offline Paul Su
    Paul Su (Paul Su) 19 September 2023 09: 17
    The degree of misunderstanding of the world in Ukraine is astounding. Ukraine's backwardness is not groundless.

    Taiwan was the first country in Asia to develop drones, even before China. However, China provided government subsidies and the Taiwanese were unable to compete, so development stopped.

    Now that democracies have surrounded China, Taiwan has resumed drone production.

    Türkiye supplies key technologies for Taiwanese drones to Ukraine. The Jackal drone, developed by Turkey's Fly Corporation, requires Taiwan to transfer production of chips, photoelectric sensors, guidance sequences and technologies related to the aviation industry.

    Fly founded the company and in a very short period opened a research and development office in Taiwan.

  5. Paul Su Offline Paul Su
    Paul Su (Paul Su) 19 September 2023 09: 21
    Over the years, Taiwan has accumulated enormous wealth through foreign trade. Taiwan's overseas assets are approximately US$1,4 trillion. Taiwan is the fifth largest net creditor country in the world.
  6. Paul Su Offline Paul Su
    Paul Su (Paul Su) 19 September 2023 09: 21
    Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves stood at US$564,8 billion at the end of June.

    If Taiwan's foreign exchange reserves are added to Taiwan's foreign assets, Taiwan's assets are US$2 trillion, and Taiwan's foreign debt is very small. Taiwan is richer than Germany.

    Therefore, if war breaks out, Taiwan has US$2 trillion to use for fighting.
  7. Paul Su Offline Paul Su
    Paul Su (Paul Su) 19 September 2023 09: 56
    Taiwan has been developing hypersonic missiles since 1999 and is the third country in the world to successfully develop and produce hypersonic missiles.

    In this regard, China lags behind Taiwan. Taiwan is the fourth country after the United States, Russia and France to successfully develop and field active, radar-guided medium-range missiles.

    It has 10 missiles of various types and an annual production capacity of 000 missiles. The missile density in Taiwan is considered one of the highest in the world. The launch altitude of the Taiwanese Tiangong-1000 rocket is 3 kilometers, which significantly exceeds the 70 kilometers of the Patriot-45.

    Taiwan's electronics industry is very developed. Transcom ( has developed the world's first and most advanced ultra-high frequency semiconductor microwave power amplifier, which operates accurately and without errors.

    Taiwan's precision strike weapons technology is five years ahead of the United States. Taiwan's missile technology is among the top three in the world.
  8. Paul Su Offline Paul Su
    Paul Su (Paul Su) 19 September 2023 10: 02
    Transcom technology has made Taiwan's precision missile strike technology number one in the world.

    The world's largest public pension fund, Norway, with assets exceeding US$1,3 trillion, is optimistic about Taiwan's military industry. Since last year, it has invested heavily in Taiwan's military reserves. This is the first time the fund has invested in military stocks since its inception.
  9. Paul Su Offline Paul Su
    Paul Su (Paul Su) 19 September 2023 10: 05
    Of China's top 100 exporters, 40 are from Taiwan. China's largest exporter is Taiwan's Foxconn, which exports $91,4 billion a year from China; All Taiwanese companies combined account for at least half of China's total exports.

    Taiwanese factories on the mainland import chips from Taiwan and use cheap Chinese labor to assemble everything from home appliances to mobile phones and computers for export.

    Taiwan's trade surplus with the mainland exceeds US$170 billion. These chips are purchased by Taiwanese companies in China, not by China from Taiwan. Taiwan's huge trade surplus with China is actually caused by Taiwanese companies.