Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen sits in an AIDC T-5 prototype at rollout
NCSIST Albatross 9717 on display at CKS Memorial Hall
Chien Hsiang Loitering munition designed by NCSIST

The defense industry of Taiwan is a strategically important sector and a significant employer. They primarily supply weapons and platforms to the Republic of China Armed Forces with few major weapons systems exported abroad. With foreign assistance the Taiwanese defense industry has produced fighter aircraft, missile systems, surface ships, radars, rocket artillery, armored vehicles, and small arms.[1]


ROCA CS/MPQ-90 Bee Eye manufactured by NCSIST


From 1825 until 1866 a shipyard in Tainan produced warships for the Qing navy. Logging for warship production was one of the impetus for the Qing's colonial expansion into Taiwan's mountainous interior.[2]


The defense sector was invigorated following the recognition of the PRC by the United States in 1979 and the subsequent uncertainty this injected into the US-Taiwan relationship. The KMT government aimed to eventually achieve full self sufficiency in weapons systems.[3] During that period, Taiwan made the IDF fighter in which is playing the role of rapid response towards PLA fighters approaching.

In 2014 the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation was privatized with the government retaining a 39% stake and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology was made an administrative corporation of the government rather than a constituent of the Armaments Bureau.[citation needed]

Under DPP President Tsai Ing-wen, there was a renewed focus on indigenous manufacturing, particularly of air and naval defense.[4][5] President Tsai has also increased the military budget.[6]

In 2021 Ministry of National Defense launched an initiative to recruit foreign workers to permanent jobs in Taiwan to address local talent shortages. The initiative also aims to address disruption stemming from the churn of contracted foreign technicians and advisors.[7]

In 2022, 800 combat drones manufactured by DronesVision were transferred to Ukraine through Poland for use during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[8][9]

Taiwanese company JC Tech has created a "Taiwanese Switchblade" suicide drone called the Flyingfish.[10][11] After a while, NCSIST also demonstrated a loitering munition made indigenously.[12] Following the widespread use of drones in the war between Ukraine and Russia the official drone development program was expanded to include non-state owned companies as prime contractors for the first time. The government views drones as a destabilizing technology whose adoption would allow Taiwan to asymmetrically counter the threat from the PLA.[13]

Missile production is extensive with annual production surpassing 1,000 units in 2023.[14]


The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the Armaments Bureau, and the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation are the only three Taiwanese defense manufacturing firms with the capabilities of a full defense prime.[15] For naval systems there are three major shipbuilders and more than a half dozen active shipyards.[16] In addition to the big defense firms there are more than 200 small and medium businesses involved in the defense industry.[17] As the Taiwanese military budget increases many Taiwanese firms which did not formerly make defense products have explored the market, interest was particularly piqued following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[18]

Land Vehicles

See also: Armaments Bureau

Taiwan's domestic vehicle industry supplies the ROC Army with armored personnel transport and some light vehicles. Famous examples include CM-12 Tank, CM-21 Armored Vehicle, and CM-32 Armoured Vehicle.[citation needed]

Maritime industry

Yushan-class landing platform dock

See also: Maritime industries of Taiwan

The major shipbuilders, CSBC Corporation, Taiwan, Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Company, and Lungteh Shipbuilding, all build military and coast guard vessels.[1] Military and Coast Guard orders make up a large portion of shipbuilders books by dollar value. Between the Taiwanese Navy and the Coast Guard Administration Taiwan spends approximately a billion dollars a year on new vessel construction.[19] The vessels are usually constructed by the shipyards and weapon installation done by NCSIST afterwards. Famous examples include Tuo Chiang-class corvette, Panshih-class fast combat support ship, and Yushan-class landing platform dock.[citation needed] Moreover, Taiwan is building on the Hai Kun-class submarine to create a fleet of new diesel attack submarines.[20]

Law and regulation

In 2019 the Legislative Yuan passed the National Defense Industry Development Act which among other things instructed the Ministry of National Defense to evaluate prospective defense companies and rank them in three tiers based on their technological capability, the size of their operations and their experience in researching, developing, manufacturing and maintaining military equipment, as well as their track record working with academia, businesses or foreign companies.[citation needed]

Later in 2019 the Legislative Yuan passed a bill which encourages foreign direct investment in the defense industry and other ”strategic” industries. The bill allows foreign investors in these sectors to claim "special tax rates" and also tax rebates of up to half their tax bill.[21]

Dual use items

The Taiwanese government restricts the export of dual use items to certain countries. In 2023 Taiwan placed additional restrictions on machine tool exports to Russia and Belarus in response to reports that certain Taiwanese machine tool manufacturers were playing a key part in Russia's war effort.[22]


T91-3 manufactured by the 205th Arsenal
Philippine Navy Multipurpose Assault Craft Mk2

The T65 and T91 assault rifles have been widely exported to many nations with the upper receiver for the T91 been sold on the US civilian market.[23] Taiwanese SOEs have not exported any major high-end weapons systems but the Taiwanese Government is becoming more open to the idea.[24] Private companies have been more successful, with Lungteh Shipbuilding supplying multiple generations of the Multipurpose Assault Craft to the Philippines.[25][26] The Taiwanese government has expressed increasing interest in supplying high end weapons systems and components to like-minded democracies.[27][28]

Trade shows

The Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition is the primary Taiwanese defense industry trade show, it is held biennially.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b David An; Matt Schrader; Ned Collins-Chase. "Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Industry: Centralized Control of Abundant Suppliers" (PDF). globaltaiwan.org. Global Taiwan Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  2. ^ Turton, Michael. "Notes from Central Taiwan: Taiwan's shrinking middle ground". taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  3. ^ "Taiwan's Modest Defense Industries Program" (PDF). www.cia.gov. Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 23, 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  4. ^ Hamacher, Fabian (2022-07-06). "Taiwan touts new air force advanced training jet's abilities". Reuters. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  5. ^ "Taiwan's friends aid stealthy submarine project as China threat rises". Reuters. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  6. ^ "Taiwan passes extra $8.6bn defence budget as China threat grows". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  7. ^ Tien-pin, Lo; Chin, Jonathan (15 August 2021). "Talent shortage hampers military projects: official". www.taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  8. ^ Everington, Keoni (18 August 2022). "Taiwan's Revolver 860 combat drones being used by Ukrainians on battlefield". taiwannews.com.tw. Taiwan News. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  9. ^ "Taiwan Sends Ukraine Over 800 Bomber Drones". kyivpost.com. Kyiv Post. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  10. ^ Lin, Sean. "Asymmetrical warfare focus has Taiwan drone companies upping the ante". focustaiwan.tw. focustaiwan.tw. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  11. ^ Staff Writer (13 September 2022). "Drone makers eye combat models". taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Military research unit unveils Taiwan-made 'suicide drone'". focus taiwan. Wu Sheng-hung and Joseph Yeh.
  13. ^ LEE, YIMOU; POMFRET, JAMES; LAGUE, DAVID. "Inspired by Ukraine war, Taiwan launches drone blitz to counter China". reuters.com. Reuters. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  14. ^ Tien-pin, Lo. "Missile production to hit delivery peak". taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  15. ^ Du, Eric. "VIEWPOINT: Business Opportunities for U.S. Defense Firms Abound in Taiwan". www.nationaldefensemagazine.org. National Defense Magazine. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  16. ^ Everington, Keoni. "Defense bill calls for joint US-Taiwan production of weapons". taiwannews.com.tw. Taiwan News. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  17. ^ "Taiwan keen to boost domestic defence industry amid rising tension with Beijing". www.scmp.com. Associated Press. Associated Press. 2018-05-14. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  18. ^ Feng, Emily. "Taiwan's companies make the world's electronics. Now they want to make weapons". npr.org. NPR. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  19. ^ Wei Shu and Elizabeth Hsu, Liao Yu-yang. "Taiwan's national defense industry to create 8,000 jobs: president". focustaiwan.tw. Focus Taiwan. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  20. ^ Tien-pin, Lo; Chin, Jonathan (2 April 2023). "Submarine prototype could be ready ahead of schedule". taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  21. ^ Grevatt, Jon. "Taiwan looks to incentivise foreign investment in defence". www.janes.com. Janes. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  22. ^ Chien-ling, Liu; Kao, Evelyn. "Taiwan expands list of export control items to Russia and Belarus". focustaiwan.tw. Focus Taiwan. Retrieved 7 February 2024.
  23. ^ Chin, Johnathan (23 April 2017). "Thousands of T91 rifles sold in US in one day: report". www.taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  24. ^ Ferry, Timothy (2019-11-14). "Growing Pains in Taiwan's Defense Sector". topics.amcham.com.tw. The American Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  25. ^ "17M Multi-Purpose Attack Craft". www.lts.com.tw. Lung Teh. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  26. ^ "15M Multi-Purpose Attack Craft". www.lts.com.tw. Lung Teh. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  27. ^ Staff Writer (16 December 2020). "Taiwan might be arms supplier: Tsai". www.taipeitimes.com. Taipei Times. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Taiwan suggests it could become an arms supplier for the West as it launches new warship". CNBC News. Reuters. 15 December 2020.
  29. ^ Minnick, Wendell (12 August 2015). "Taiwan Defense Show Exhibits New Weapons". www.defensenews.com. Defense News. Retrieved 27 January 2020.