Taiwan to Acquire Nearly 1,000 AI-Powered Drones

In a significant move to bolster its military capabilities, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) plans to procure nearly 1,000 drones equipped with (AI) and machine learning abilities this year, according to a report delivered to the Legislative Yuan last week.

Briefing on Sea-Air Combat Power Improvement Plan

Minister of National Defense Wellington Koo is set to brief lawmakers today at a meeting of the legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee on the details of the report, which reportedly outlines the implementation of the Sea-Air Combat Power Improvement Plan Purchase.

Importance of Drones in Modern Warfare

The ministry has included drone development as a crucial part of its military building plans, following the wide application of drones in recent conflicts such as the Azerbaijani offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh last year and 's ongoing war in . The report emphasizes that “the increased use of drones on battlefields has shown their importance in modern warfare.”

Collaboration with Chungshan Institute and Private Contractors

The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, a corporation under the ministry's Armaments Bureau, has been tasked with researching and developing medium and large-sized military drones and attack drones with military specifications. Additionally, the ministry is working with private contractors to develop commercial drones for military use.

Integrating Domestic Production and Removing Chinese Influence

To further strengthen defense capabilities, the report suggests that the Armaments Bureau and the Ministry of Economic Affairs should discuss ways to integrate domestic sources and production capacity while removing influence from the Chinese supply chain.

Types of Drones to be Acquired

According to the report, the military plans to acquire 968 drones of seven different types this year, including:

  • Attack drones produced by the Chungshan Institute
  • Second-generation short-range uncrewed aerial vehicles
  • Miniature drones
  • Target acquisition drones
  • Carrier drones
  • Surveillance drones
  • Land drones purchased from private contractors

AI and Machine Learning Technologies

The military has taken AI and machine learning technologies into consideration when acquiring drones, seeking capabilities such as “one-click takeoff,” “autonomous return,” “path planning flight,” “dynamic target tracking,” and “coordinate distance calculation” to reduce operator load, flight risks, and improve operational efficiency. The report states that emerging AI technologies will be included in future development plans.

Future Drone Acquisitions

The ministry's budget assessment report reveals that it will acquire “target acquisition,” “miniature,” “ship-based,” “surveillance,” and “land” commercial drones from 2023 to 2027, increasing its total number of drones to 3,231. Additionally, the ministry is procuring 201 new generation “short-range uncrewed aerial vehicles” jointly developed by the military and private contractors.

DroneXL's Take

Taiwan's acquisition of nearly 1,000 AI-powered drones demonstrates the growing importance of unmanned aerial vehicles in modern warfare. By collaborating with both the Chungshan Institute and private contractors, the Ministry of National Defense is taking a multi-faceted approach to bolster its drone capabilities. The integration of AI and machine learning technologies will undoubtedly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of these drones on the battlefield.

As tensions continue to rise in the region, Taiwan's investment in is a strategic move to strengthen its asymmetric defense capabilities. The emphasis on integrating domestic production and removing Chinese influence from the supply chain is also a crucial step in ensuring the security and reliability of these advanced systems.

Photo courtesy of Taipei Times.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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