Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Security lax at super-secret base

Defense experts and officials in Taipei and Washington had mixed reactions to the embarrassing news, published on Monday by Defense News and Kyodo news agency, that security at a key signals intelligence facility in northern Taiwan was so lax that neighboring cows were observed walking freely around the base.

Located in Linkou (林口), Taipei County, Linyuan Base collects imagery and signals intelligence deep inside China and at sea.

The facility, which is operated by the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND) ultra-secret Office of Telecommunication Development (OTD), General Staff Headquarters, was built in 2000 and started operations in 2003, Defense News wrote.

Kyodo said construction of the OTD facility cost more than NT$4 billion (US$124 million).

Consisting of a large building for data processing, barracks, a number of satellite dishes and two Circularly Disposed Antenna Arrays (CDAA), or “crop circles” that detect the direction of radio signals, the site has been described by local sources as a combination of the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) and National Reconnaissance Office.

The facility has a range of about 5,000km and can cover all of China, and the larger of the two CDAAs is still, according to Desmond Ball, a signals intelligence expert, “the most important high-frequency radio interception and direction- finding station in Taiwan.”

This story, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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