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September 25, 2017

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MND to launch new defense tech dep't

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's military announced Tuesday the establishment of a new defense technology department, a move intended to boost indigenous defense technology capabilities.

Col. Yu Yu-tang (游玉堂) of the Defense Ministry's Resource Planning Division, said the new military department, to be officially established next January, will be responsible for developing "groundbreaking" and "innovative" technologies for national defense and to drive development of the industry.

The move will also help to retain local defense technology talent in Taiwan and to boost economic growth in the country, he added.

The ministry will introduce civilian experts as professional managers to work in the soon-to-be-launched department.

Twenty-three experienced specialists in defense technology and industry with PhD degrees are expected to be recruited to the government agency before October 2017, he added.

In its initial stage, the ministry plans to allocate NT$3 billion to the initiative.

According to Yu, the new defense technology section will initially be launched as an expansion of the Resource Planning Division.

The department will later grow into a discrete unit listed directly under the Defense Ministry, he said.

Yu also said that the new project had no connection to an arms firm called "Taiwan Goal" (鐽震), which was launched by the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government in 2008.

Taiwan Goal was a private company founded in 2008 to handle arms sales.

At the time, the DPP government stressed that the company was intended to promote Taiwan's defense industry, yet its funding was criticized by Kuomintang lawmakers for a lack of transparency and for being "prone to scandal."

Amid criticism, the former DPP government announced the company's closure.

Learn from DAPRA

According to Yu, the new section is based on the example of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

DARPA is a U.S. Department of Defense agency responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.

Yu's announcement came a week after Vice Defense Minister Lee Hsi-min (李喜明) disclosed the military's intention to establish a new defense technology department while traveling in the U.S.

During his address at the annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia on Oct. 3, Lee said Taiwan intended to establish a "Taiwan DARPA" to accelerate technology development and application, and to integrate resources across government agencies.

"Resources across industry, government, academia and research entities will be integrated to ensure a steady supply of innovative ideas and quality manpower," he said in his speech.

The annual conference has been hosted by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council since 2002.

The conference is considered an important platform for dialogue on Taiwan's national security needs, weapons procurement and defense cooperation with the U.S.

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