Taiwan buys kamikaze drones in the thousands

Taiwan buys kamikaze drones in the thousands

Taiwan is preparing to bolster its defence with more than 1,000 kamikaze drones. An analysis of the impact and strategic implications of this acquisition.

In brief

The US government has approved the sale of more than 1,000 kamikaze drones to Taiwan. The sale, which includes the Switchblade 300 and ALTIUS 600M, is aimed at strengthening the island’s defence capability against a potential Chinese invasion. The UAVs will be used to attack Chinese warships and landing craft, while increasing surveillance and reconnaissance in the Taiwan Strait. This initiative is part of an asymmetric defence strategy aimed at deterring aggression through cost-effective and efficient means.

Detailed analysis of the sale of kamikaze drones to Taiwan

Context and strategic importance of the sale

The sale of kamikaze drones to Taiwan takes place against a backdrop of growing tensions between Taiwan and China. China considers Taiwan to be a secessionist province and does not rule out the use of force to achieve reunification. Taiwan, in response, is strengthening its defence capabilities to deter a possible invasion.

The sale includes more than 1,000 kamikaze drones, including the Switchblade 300 and ALTIUS 600M. These drones, already in use in Ukraine, offer valuable attack and reconnaissance capabilities. The lightweight, portable Switchblade 300s can be launched by a single soldier, while the larger, more powerful ALTIUS 600Ms are capable of longer-range missions and extended surveillance.

Technical specifications of the UAVs

Switchblade 300

The Switchblade 300 weighs around 2.5 kg and is launched from a portable tube. It has a maximum range of 10 to 30 km, depending on the version, and an autonomy of 15 to 20 minutes. This drone is equipped with a small explosive charge comparable to a 40 mm grenade, making it effective against light vehicles and infantry.


The ALTIUS 600M is larger, weighing up to 12 kg. It has a range of 440 km and an autonomy of 4 hours. This drone can be fitted with a variety of payloads, including electro-optical and infrared sensors, enabling it to carry out large-scale surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It is launched from tubes mounted on vehicles or trailers, offering great mobility.

Implications for Taiwan’s defence

Kamikaze drones offer a new dimension to Taiwan’s defence. Their ability to attack targets autonomously and provide real-time intelligence is crucial. In the event of an invasion, drones could target Chinese landing ships and other critical infrastructure, disrupting offensive operations and increasing the costs of such an operation for China.

For example, Taiwan’s outlying islands, such as Kinmen County, located less than 16km from mainland China, could use these drones to conduct harassment attacks on the mainland, complicating China’s logistical and military efforts.

Taiwan buys kamikaze drones in the thousands

Economic and logistical consequences

The sale of the drones, worth a total of €360.2 million, includes not only the aircraft themselves, but also logistical support and training. Implementation of the sale will require the presence of US representatives in Taiwan for up to five years to ensure the proper deployment and use of the UAVs.

This transaction reflects close cooperation between the United States and Taiwan, despite Taiwan’s lack of formal diplomatic recognition by the United States. It underlines the strategic importance that Washington attaches to the island’s defence in the context of Sino-American rivalry.

Future prospects

The introduction of kamikaze drones into Taiwan’s arsenal could prompt other nations to adopt similar strategies to bolster their defences against more powerful adversaries. This trend could lead to an increase in drone sales and further technological development in this field, making future conflicts even more technological and automated.

War simulations and military exercises will continue to test the effectiveness of these drones, and the results could influence future defence policies not only in Taiwan but also in other parts of the world facing similar threats.

The sale of more than 1,000 kamikaze drones to Taiwan marks a significant step in the modernisation of its defence. These drones offer advanced strike and reconnaissance capabilities, crucial to deterring and responding to a possible Chinese invasion. This transaction strengthens strategic cooperation between the United States and Taiwan and could have major implications for defence and security in the Asia-Pacific region.