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Taiwan Upgrades New Long-range Radar System

India city lights at night. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) activated a new long-range radar in New Taipei’s Gongliao District that will be an upgrade of its existing system that has been in service for over 20 years. The new radar system installed in Sandiaojiao, Taiwan’s easternmost point that also features a lighthouse, will be used to monitor the movements of civilian aircraft through the Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR)

The long-range radar system should also be able to assist the military in monitoring the movements of People’s Liberation Army aircraft around Taiwan. The CAA’s Air Navigation and Weather Services department currently has 11 radar systems across the country, including nine terminal area radar systems and two long-range radar systems, both of which have been in use for over two decades.

The Taipei FIR is an important aviation hub for East Asia that controls 18 international air routes to the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea and China. The new long-range radar in Sandiaojiao is a modern system that can more accurately detect the position, distance and altitude of aircraft, while also ensuring the safety of the routes.

– Wang Kwo-tsai, Transportation Minister

The new radar is part of the CAA’s NT$676 million (US$24.34 million) modernization project initiated in 2019 to upgrade its two ageing long-range radar systems, with the other being in Eluanbi at Taiwan’s southernmost point. Work on the two systems began on Dec. 7, 2020, and the system in Eluanbi is still being tested but is expected to start operations in January 2022.

According to the agency, the two new long-range radars each consist of primary and secondary surveillance units. The primary units are capable of detecting flights within 220 nautical miles (407.44 kilometres) and are able to monitor up to 1,000 flights at a time. The secondary units are equipped with Mode S functionality that can detect flights within 250 nautical miles and monitor up to 900 flights at a time.

According to a page, the primary focus of Taiwan’s Long-term National Space Technology Development Programme is satellite development. Having laid the foundation for indigenous space technology in the first and second phases of the programme, the nation is now launching the third phase, which will run from 2019 to 2028.

The programme aims to push domestic aerospace technology to new heights and meet the challenges of cutting-edge space missions. At the same time, the programme also aims to extend and spread the benefits of the aerospace technology industry, nurture space technology talent, and build an aerospace industry supply chain of Taiwan’s own.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, given the significance of space technology, the President of Taiwan vowed to place space technology at the heart of Taiwan’s industrial development plans through enhanced academia-industry-government collaboration. The President’s statement underscored the government’s commitment to cementing the country’s position in global supply chains.

Space development is one of the Taiwanese government’s top priorities, as demonstrated by the passing of the Space Development Act and a plan to invest US$906.62 million in the space sector over the next decade. Taiwan has six core strategic industries which comprise information and digital technology; cybersecurity; biotech and medical technology; national defence; green and renewable energy; and strategic stockpile industries. This will help secure Taiwan’s technological leadership while capitalising on business opportunities such as the launch of low-orbit satellites.

The President also emphasised that Taiwan must secure a strategic position in the space industry’s supply chain by leveraging its competitive edge in semiconductor and precision engineering. To that end, Taiwan’s leader called for cooperation between governments, the private sector and academia to launch a local team dedicated to manufacturing satellites and ground station equipment as soon as possible.

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