KEY POINTS

  • The Bee Eye will replace Lockheed Martin portable search and target radars 
  • Taiwan's top weapons maker will supply 11 of these radar systems next year
  • The island will also get its first homegrown military drones later this year
     

Amid battling China's aggression tactics, Taiwan has decided to ramp up its air defense by setting up locally-made "Bee Eye" radar systems on the outposts of Dongyin and Quemoy. The radars will also be installed at the disputed Pratas and Spratly archipelagos in the South China Sea.

The decision to bring in a new defense system next year comes after several low-flying objects from China began posing a threat to the island's security over the last few months, reported South China Morning Post.

While such low-flying aircraft and drones are difficult to detect in an ordinary system, the Bee Eye has electronically-scanned array radars that help eliminate the blind spot. At present, Taiwan uses Lockheed Martin portable search and target acquisition radars (PSTAR) on those islands.

The island's defense ministry has signed a contract with the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the island’s top weapons maker, for the supply of 11 of these radar systems, the report added.

According to a report forwarded to the Taiwanese legislature for budget review, the ministry sought a fund of NT$300 million (USD 10.15 million) in the first year so that radars could be deployed from 2023. “Total cost … amounts to NT$3.24749 billion [US$110 million] and funding would be spread over five years from 2022 to 2026," the report said.

Taiwan's decision to install the Bee Eye comes as the island faces constant pressure from the Chinese military in the form of warplane intrusions and military drills. It had also recently reported the presence of three low-flying objects near Taiwan-controlled outposts, including in Quemoy where a drone flew in from the Chinese mainland.

In such a scenario, the Bee Eye radars can be extremely effective, believes analyst. Su Tzu-yun, a senior analyst at the Institute for National Defence and Security Research, told South China Morning Post that the radar system could also be used with the new land-based, short-range Tien Chien 2 missile, which the institute has been testing.

According to the makers, the Bee Eye can protect strategic infrastructures like military bases, seaports, and other targets from air attacks.

Besides the radars, Taiwan's army will also get its first homegrown military drones soon. The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology will reportedly hand over 14 sets of tactical short-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) later this year.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R) inspects a training exercise for reservists at a military base in Taoyuan
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R) inspects a training exercise for reservists at a military base in Taoyuan AFP / Sam Yeh
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