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Digital Battlespace

US intelligence is in bed with Taiwan space agency

24th September 2018 - 01:06 GMT | by Wendell Minnick in Taipei


Growing evidence, including documents acquired by Shephard, indicate that the US intelligence community and the Pentagon have had a direct relationship with Taiwan’s National Space Organization (NSPO), despite NSPO’s explicit mission statement of being a ‘civilian’ satellite and space research entity.

The documents, some unredacted, are demonstrative of how close, yet secretive, the US military and intelligence community have been with Taiwan in the past.

A defence industry source said there had been unconfirmed rumours for a decade that Taiwan was part of the USAF’s Defense Support Program as part of the Satellite Early Warning System that detects missile launches and nuclear detonations.

One NSPO document identified US representatives by name from the Pentagon’s Space Policy Support, the de facto US embassy (the American Institute in Taiwan), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Office of External Relations, and bureaus of the US State Department that include the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

Six representatives in the document, all identified by name, are given no attribution beyond ‘US government,’ but several have now since been identified as US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts and officers.

One member on the list was a CIA ‘science, technology and weapons analyst’, another was with the CIA’s ‘Collection Resources and Evaluation Staff’ and another was a CIA liaison to the US National Reconnaissance Office.

The NSPO is under Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology, and it has implemented various space programmes that have included remote-sensing satellites, micro-satellites, components and other equipment.

The NSPO has also developed hyper-spectral imagers, cross-platform satellite operation control systems, truly radiation-hardened fibre light sources and aspherical mirror fabrication technology. All these are required for military applications.

Revelations of the US intelligence community and NSPO relationship are not a real surprise given China’s threats to invade the self-ruled island of 23 million people.

According to a ‘draft’ document obtained by Shephard, the NSPO’s FORMOSAT-5 ‘earth observation satellite,’ launched into space in August 2017 for ‘scientific missions,’ can produce military-grade images of 2m resolution.

It can provide coverage of China’s east coast province of Fujian, as well as the Taiwan Strait, both areas critical for assessing China’s military preparations to invade Taiwan.

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