Kestrel anti-armor rockets deployed by Taiwan Coast Guard to South China Sea islands

The Taiwanese armed forces have deployed a total of 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to its Dongsha and Taiping islands in the South China Sea in response to China’s military ambitions to invade and occupy them, George Liao reports in Taiwan News.
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Left: soldier of the Republic of China army with a Kestrel anti-armor rocket launcher (Picture source: ROC National Defense Department - military defense website of ROC)

Since 2000, Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration has taken over the defense of the two islands. Currently, over 200 Coast Guard personnel trained by the Marine Corps are stationed at either island, Liberty Times reported. However, as tensions in the South China Sea have risen, not only has Taiwan deployed Marines to Dongsha Island, but it has also sought to increase firepower.

According to an Ocean Affairs Council document, the Coast Guard has deployed 168 and 124 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to command posts on Dongsha and Taiping islands, respectively. The anti-armor rockets, deployed for defense purposes, can be used in anti-landing operations, the document said.

The Kestrel anti-armor rocket, developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), is an individual shoulder-launched weapon for anti-armor and concrete penetration. It is currently in service with the Republic of China Armed Forces and Coast Guard Administration. Development of the Kestrel began in 2008 following a request from the Republic of China Marine Corps. Eleven tests were carried out between 2009 and 2012 and the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation occurred in 2013. The Kestrel was first exhibited at the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition in 2013. The Kestrel entered service with the ROCMC in 2015.

The launcher is made from fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) and features an optical sight as well as a mounting for a night vision scope. The effective range is 400m with a HEAT warhead rocket and 150m with a HESH warhead rocket. 

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Kestrel anti-armor rocket and launcher (Picture source: National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology)