TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has deployed a total of 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to its Dongsha (東沙群島, Pratas Islands) and Taiping islands (太平島, Itu Aba) in the South China Sea in response to China’s military 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, 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 has two types of warheads, one for anti-tank purposes and one for concrete penetration. The former has an effective range of 400 meters and an armor penetration depth of 35 centimeters, while the latter has an effective range of 150 meters and a penetration depth of 20-60 centimeters through reinforced concrete, according to the NCSIST.