- "You're not cleaning up trash for the 'Ruskies', you're helping us maintain regional stability."
- ― Kestrel to Archer.
Kestrel (real name: Mikhail Andreyevitch Loskov (Russian: Михаил Андреевич Лоськов)), is a former field operative for Voron (rough translation: Raven), an SVR special operations group, featured as one of the two protagonists in the co-op campaign of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. He was paired up with Third Echelon Splinter Cell Daniel Robert Sloane-Suarez (callsign: Archer). He was voiced by Alex Ivanovici.
Most of Mikhail's military dossier is classified. What is known is that he is no stranger to death, misery, and misfortune. Loskov's parents were killed in a terrorist attack when he was six; he had a tempestuous and violent relationship with his foster father and at the age of 14, he ran away from home to live on the streets of St. Petersburg for more than four harrowing years. After numerous run-ins with the local police, Loskov was arrested at age 18 and turned over to the army for his period of conscription. Unlike many conscripts, Loskov thrived in the brutal atmosphere of Russian army life, and was quickly transferred to a special counterinsurgency unit charged with tracking down and neutralizing Chechen guerrillas and Wahhabist fighters in the Chechen capital of Grozny.
After an incident where his entire unit was ambushed and subsequently captured, Loskov was forced to witness the systemic executions of his friends. He endured three days of unspeakable torture before the Spetsnaz came to his rescue. After reading his report on the incident, an SVR officer named Viktor Kovalev approached Loskov to discuss a new, special operations group dedicated to high-risk infiltration and information gathering. From that day on he was known as KESTREL.
Two days prior to the events of the Third Echelon conspiracy, Kestrel teamed up with Third Echelon agent Archer. After successfully extracting the EMP device with Archer and Kobin via transport plane, Kestrel became aware of Archer's orders to kill him as Archer left his OPSAT next to Kestrel. The two briefly fought in the hold of the plane (as an in-game event forces both players to fight each other one-on-one). The victor sadly crouched over the body of his partner and exchanged a few last words, only to be shot by Andriy Kobin and put into a coma. Canonically, Archer is killed by Kestrel as explained in the events of Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
2013: Fourth Echelon Rescue
During the Blacklist attacks two years after the EMP attack on D.C. that took place in 2011, 4th Echelon field operatives Sam Fisher and Isaac Briggs investigated a lead involving Voron attempting to steal a nuclear weapon from India. Eventually, the operation led them to an abandoned city in Koltsovo Naukograd, Russia. Originally, their mission being to retrieve the intel source that Voron was using they discovered instead a medical facility with a lone individual in a comatose state. Evidence showed that the coma was artificial and had been induced several times, presumably for interrogation purposes, leading Sam to believe that Voron's intel source was in fact the individual.
Fisher and Briggs managed to extract with the patient, whom later Anna Grímsdóttir identified as Mikhail Loskov, callsign "Kestrel." Due to Kestrel's knowledge of 3rd Echelon, Fisher decided that it was best they kept him aboard the Paladin until they found out what he knew. Afterwards, Kestrel's entry in the SMI database states that he indeed recovered aboard the Paladin and that he was aware that Voron used him as an intel source. However, he did not know how he ended up in their hands or that Andriy Kobin had played a role in it.
After Kestrel told Fourth Echelon everything he knew about the Third Echelon conspiracy, Fisher released him. Kestrel returned to Russia as a "freelancer" and was determined to take revenge on those who had imprisoned him. Fisher later considered calling him to help with the search for Igor Kasperov. When Kestrel disabled the tracker, Fisher had Fourth Echelon track him. They found him in Chernobyl, where he was interrogating a prisoner. Fisher was able to get what he needed from him, and had Isaac Briggs remove the loose end. When Kestrel objected, he told him to keep in touch and not to follow them.
After their encounter in Chernobyl, it is believed Sam persuaded Kestrel to become an operative of Fourth Echelon.
According to command observations, Kestrel is "reclusive", "introverted" and "unforgiving". Through much of Kestrel's dialogue, it is further shown how he is very calm, collected and has a more professional mindset in his missions compared to his counterpart, Archer. While he was described as unforgiving, he was respectful and saddened when he killed Archer in self-defense.
- "Our Russian agent had a much more traumatic history. He was former Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces with the most fearsome reputation (and that was just because of their training). Of the two, Kestrel probably had the most in common with Sam Fisher because of their wartime experience. Like a bird of prey, he is a survivor and an efficient predator, but only out of necessity. He takes no particular pleasure in what he does."
- ― Patrick Redding, Splinter Cell: Conviction Co-Op Game Director.
- According to the Prima Game Guide and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction manual, Kestrel's original real name was Mikhail Volkov.
- "Kestrel" is the name given to several different members of the falcon genus, which can be easily distinguished by their typical hunting behaviors.
- The Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction Starter Kit says that he is 5′10″, which would make him slightly taller than 175 centimeters.
- Kestrel wears the VR SV1 Akula as his default uniform. Kestrel's armor differs from Archer's, for example: an obvious bulging chest rig for pistol magazines. It looks as if it is made up of at least three different layers of clothing.
- Kestrel is distinguished from Archer in Conviction by his red two-lensed monocular Sonar Goggles which cover his right eye, as well as additional red light on the same side of his head, like other Splinter Cells excluding Sam.
- However, it functions exactly like the one used by Archer.
- Kestrel is a Voron field operative on loan to Third Echelon. In terms of role and training, he is considered on-par with a Splinter Cell.
- His biography lists his birthplace as the Russian Federation. This is impossible, as Russia was still part of the Soviet Union when he was born. This is likely a developer oversight.
- According to his file he was single and lived in Saint Petersburg.
- It is likely that he was a Russian Airborne soldier before being recruited into Voron, as he is pictured in the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) uniform.
- Kestrel has a sleeve tattoo on his right arm.
- If Kestrel loses the face-off match at the end of Prologue his last words are, "Orders are orders, right Chief?"
- Kestrel was either 28 or 29 years old in Conviction and either 30 or 31 in Blacklist.
- When wearing the 3E Shadow Armor his Sonar Goggle lens will glow red instead of green, as with all other uniforms that both Archer and Kestrel are able to wear, except for the 3E Elite.
- In the credits he is listed as "Mikahil Loskov Kestral". This is likely a typographical error.
- Kestrel only appears in the Co-op mode in Blacklist.
- Following the end of the Co-op Campaign in Blacklist, he remains in the infirmary during the between-mission setting.
- A Recon Data scavenged in the Paladin after co-op missions shows concept art of Kestrel wearing the Voron Revenant Suit. He appears not to be wearing any goggles however. Kestrel's Revenant Suit is Beige in color, and Kestrel also appears to have slicked back hair and a completely shaved face.
- Kestrel being alive in Splinter Cell: Blacklist confirms that he won the face-off against Archer at the end of the Co-op Campaign in Conviction.
- Kobin says in the end of the Briggs co-op, about them (he and Kestrel) as friends, which is partially a lie. Kestrel had only worked with Kobin during the Mozdok Proving Grounds, and was shot by Kobin, which would leave them acquaintances, not friends.
- If Kestrel jumps on chopper at the Russian embassy to evacuate first, in response to "thanks" from Archer we can hear "pozhaluysta", which translates as "you're welcome".
- By the events of Blacklist Kestrel is wearing an orange prison outfit and black blindfolds, and has grown a beard due to being in a coma for two years. After completing the Abandoned City level, his blindfolds will also be off. His tattoos from Conviction are also mysteriously gone.
- His mask makes a cameo in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2. Mission 20 "Last Stand" worn by Drachev of the Russian Voron agency.
- His Voron head gear is available in Ghost Recon Wildlands in Crates as of Special Operation 3 Update.
- As shown on the promotional images for Deniable Ops, Kestrel's signature weapons are the SPAS-12 and the MP5-SD3.
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (Co-op campaign)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist (Co-op campaign)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist Aftermath