Taiwan’s Newest EW System Faces Third, Critical Test

K.B. Sherman, (c) 2003

Following a “disastrous” first test in 2000 and an inconclusive second test in 2001, Taiwan’s Improved Mobile Subscriber Equipment System (IMSE) faces its make-or-break test in early 2003, according to The Taipei Times.

The $ 720 million electronic warfare and communications system, obtained from the US Army in buys in 1996 and 2000, is a combination of two US systems: the Army Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) and Area Common User System (ACUS). The modular and reconfigurable system is designed to be highly mobile, is interoperable with most US Armed Forces and NATO communications equipment, and interfaces with commercial telephone and Internet networks.

The system will next be tested in 2003’s Hankuang No. 19 Exercise. During the 2001 test only parts of the system were evaluated.

The system faces considerable internal opposition from officials who claim the army has exaggerated its effectiveness and survivability. Communications speeds and reliability are said to be far below what was promised by ROC Army officials. Taipei had plans to buy several more units of the system, but they were halted by the legislature on grounds of inadequacy and claims that the system is so powerful that it could adversely affect the operation of civil communications.

As advertised, the system offers powerful RF signal collection and jamming capabilities, rapid communications capabilities, and control of an unnamed unmanned combat aerial vehicle with a range of 240 miles – both capabilities which are of particular interest to Taiwan as it develops its first true electronic warfare capability in the face of an increasingly agitated PRC and a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons. If successful, Taipei has budgeted an additional $ 147 million for expanding the system.

The US Army has been successfully using the Army Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) set.