Taiwan has not put a U.S.-built unmanned aerial vehicle, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, on its arms procurement list, opting instead to have its military-run research institute develop an indigenous unmanned aircraft system, a defense official said Monday.
"The Air Force has identified the need to acquire unmanned aircraft, but has not included the U.S.-built reconnaissance aircraft system on its arms procurement list," Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu said at a Legislative Yuan session.
The minister said the military-run Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology is already researching and developing the unmanned surveillance aircraft system.
He made the remarks following a report in the Taipei-based China Times daily that same day that Japan has come up with an RQ-4 Global Hawk procurement plan after the U.S. military formally stationed the aircraft in Guam last month.
The paper also quoted unidentified military sources as saying that the Air Force is conducting an assessment on whether to follow suit and that it will put both F-16C/D jet fighters and the RQ-4 Global Hawk on its priority procurement list.
Asked for his views on the report by ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lo Ming-Tsai, Kao said Taiwan has been developing unmanned aerial vehicle for quite some time, with the Chung-Shan institute leading the effort.
The minister also said that it remains unclear whether the United States will agree to sell Japan the advanced RQ-4 Global Hawks.
According to Kao, the Ministry of National Defense's 2011 arms procurement budget will mainly be used to finance items that the U.S. has already agreed to sell to Taiwan.