Taiwan is facing new challenges in upgrading its signals intelligence as China continues to boost its communications systems, the authoritative Jane’s Intelligence Review says.
Despite lengthy covert technical support provided by the US National Security Agency (NSA), Taiwan still lacks a three-dimensional surveillance picture of China’s military activities and operations, the weekly says in an article to be published on February 1.
Taiwan’s older methods of collecting and analysing radio transmissions, which are mostly manual and very time consuming, are unable to keep pace with modern signals, it quoted a US intelligence source as saying, adding that the analysis of intercepted signals is undertaken by a total of 369 officers.
“For many years signals have steadily become faster, bigger (many carried within one signal) and much more complex,” he said.
“Newer methods employ computerised collection systems that detect, intercept and process a signal, then output certain types of information,” he said.
“The newer systems must be used to cope with the tremendous increase in the number and complexity of some of the communications systems now used by China,” he said.
Jane’s Defense Weekly earlier this month said Washington was pressing Taiwan to procure two intelligence-gathering devices to correct an intelligence “blind spot” over the activities of China’s army.
The facilities include a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite and a signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft.
China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan, which it claims as a renegade province, prompting the island to seek more sophisticated weaponry.
In terms of the Taiwan Relations Act passed by the US Congress when Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, the United States is obliged to provide the island with sufficient weapons to defend itself.