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'Taiwanese Switchblade' could be mass-produced next year: Developer

03/15/2023 09:07 PM
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CNA photo March 15, 2023
CNA photo March 15, 2023

Taipei, March 15 (CNA) A domestically developed "suicide drone," also known as loitering munition, will undergo an operational test and evaluation in July and could enter mass production next year, Taiwan's state-run weapons developer said Wednesday.

The yet-to-be-named drone was among nine drone models unveiled by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on Tuesday.

The drone has been dubbed the "Taiwanese switchblade" by local media due to its similarity to the U.S.-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300, which has been used to great effect by Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.

It has a range of greater than 10 kilometers, a flight time of over 15 minutes, and an electro optical and infrared (EO/IR) system, according to the NCSIST.

It is also equipped with a precision high-explosive warhead and can be carried into the battlefield by infantry to target high-value targets including individuals and vehicles, the NCSIST said.

During an interpellation at the Legislative Yuan on Wednesday, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-chen (邱國正) was asked by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) whether the military would contract the manufacture of the loitering munition.

Chiu said that a manufacturing project and a program to train drone pilots across services are being planned by the Navy.

NCSIST President Art Chang (張忠誠), who was also at the legislative session, told Chao that operational tests and evaluations of the drone will commence in July, and if operating capability is deemed acceptable, mass production will begin next year.

(By Matt Yu and Sean Lin)


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