After the Ministry of National Defense announced the procurement bid for “Military Commercial UAVs” in September, it cooperated with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and manufacturers for the first time to develop five types of military UAVs with different mission characteristics based on civilian technology, and plans to purchase 3,000 drones with a budget of 50 billion , Nine manufacturers are expected to launch prototypes for testing in July next year, and ban the use of Chinese-made parts and related supply chains.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences led the development of the UAV programs of the National Army in the past, mainly focusing on medium/large reconnaissance and attack UAVs, including Tengyun II, Jianxiang and Ruiyuan UAVs, which have all entered service in recent years. With the MQ-9B UAV purchased from the United States, it forms the large-scale UAV combat force of the national army.
However, the Ukrainian-Russian War highlighted the impact of front-line units combining small military/commercial drones, whether it is the commercial small drones of various brands such as DJI and Chengsen International, or the U.S. military defined in Group 1~2 (25 kg Small military-spec UAVs of the following) level have brought about a qualitative change in the detection, mobility and accuracy of frontline infantry, artillery and armored troops.
Therefore, in addition to large-scale military drones, the national army has also begun to shift its attention to small drones. However, the Chinese Academy of Sciences does not have enough capacity to fill the huge demand. Therefore, it must combine the technology and production capacity of private manufacturers.
Before the military-standard commercial UAV project, there were not many opportunities for cooperation between domestic UAV manufacturers and the government. The government’s UAV bidding case was small and could not drive the domestic industrial scale. The case made domestic manufacturers very excited, thinking that the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Economic Affairs joined forces to represent the government for real.
However, although the government’s investment budget is large this time, due to the tense situation in the Taiwan Strait, this is a military-use commercial UAV development project. Under the instructions of the National Security Bureau, the schedule is also very tight. Nine manufacturers are expected to launch prototypes in July 2023. The machine will be tested, and the first batch of purchases will begin in August at the earliest.
For small domestic drone manufacturers in Taiwan, through large-scale government funding and technical cooperation, it will help manufacturers develop important confidential technologies related to drones, which will be of great help in increasing the scale of the industry and expanding the export market in the future.