MANUFACTURER(S): Tata / DRDO - India
Detailing the development and operational history of the TATA Motors Kestrel 8x8 Amphibious Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV).
Entry last updated on 7/12/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Alongside its new Light Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (LAMV) showcased at DEFEXPO 2014, TATA Motors unveiled its "Kestrel" 8x8 amphibious wheeled armored personnel carrier marking a decided move by Indian military industry away from Western or Russian offerings. The vehicle has been design by DRDO ("Defence Research and Development Organisation") and follows many of the well-accepted lines of contemporary multi-wheeled armored fighting vehicles seen elsewhere. The Kestrel is being developed with the intention to replace the aged and outgoing stocks of Soviet-era BMP vehicles currently in service and forms a possible solution to the Indian Army's Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) endeavor.
Taking recent global warfare results into account, the Kestrel has been designed with a modern approach to crew survivability, given a resistance level against small arms fire, shell splinters and concealed explosives. The armor is made up of applique and composites along with welded steel. Additional armor kits can be applied for improved protection in heavy-fire warzones. The hull floor is further protected against mines and similar threats. Its 8x8 wheel configuration is suspended atop an independent hydropneumatic system utilizing a double wishbone arrangement. All wheels feature a "run-flat" capability to allow the vehicle to get out of trouble even after suffering a puncture. Of the four axles, the forward set are steerable which reduces such a long vehicle's turning radius. The glacis plate is very shallow, allowing for inherent ballistics protection from the front. Of particular note in the Kestrel design is its external mounting of the fuel stores - provided as an additional crew survivability feature.
A standard operating crew is two to include the driver and commander (seated in line offset to the right side of the vehicle). The standard turret installation (Kongsberg Protector MCT-30R) can also accept a roof-mounted Remote Weapons Station (RWS). The standard arrangement sees the vehicle field a 30mm autocannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. The remote weapons station adds a 12.7mm heavy machine gun. Sources also state a 40mm automatic grenade launcher in the mix. The vehicle is further granted support stations for up to 2 x Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) launchers. In this way, a single vehicle can counter enemy infantry, light armored vehicles and frontline combat tanks. Firing ports along the hull side introduces the prospect of passenger infantry bringing their personal weapons to bear in a firefight.
A further ten occupants can be carried in the rear passenger compartment (the engine mounted at the front-left side of the hull to accommodate the rear cabin area). The passengers line a center seating area in a back-to-back fashion (facing outwards towards the sides of the hull). A large, rectangular powered door at the rear hull lowers to act as a ramp for quickly embarking/disembarking occupants. The Kestrel has also been made fully amphibious, able to traverse water sources deeper than its height and propelled by the two available waterjets found at the lower corners of the hull rear.
Performance specifications from the diesel-fueled engine includes a maximum road speed of 62 miles per hour. Of course this is considerably reduced when traversing water sources.
The Indian Army expects it would have to procure some 2,000 Kestrel Armored Personnel Carriers to replace its entire fleet of BMPs.