Taiwanese Armed Forces has deployed a total of 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to its Taiping and Dongsha islands in the South China Sea in response to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ambitions to invade and occupy them. 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.
The Taiwanese Coast Guard has deployed 168 and 124 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to command posts on Dongsha and Taiping islands. The anti-armor rockets, deployed for defense purposes, can be used in anti-landing operations. 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. Development of the Kestrel began in 2008 following a request from the Republic of China Marine Corps.
The Kestrel anti-armor rocket is an individual shoulder-launched weapon for anti-armor and concrete penetration developed by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) and currently in service with the Republic of China Armed Forces and Coast Guard Administration. The Republic of China Army has evaluated the system to replace their numerous M72 LAW systems. As of 2018 the ROCA had not yet placed an order for the Kestrel.
The launcher is made from fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) and features an optical sight as well as a mount for a night vision scope. Effective range is 400m with HEAT warhead rocket and 150m with HESH warhead rocket. The development of a High Explosive Squash Head warhead began in 2012. It has been tested against brick walls and reinforced concrete. This warhead is particularly effective for making mouseholes (improvised doorways) in concrete walls during urban combat.