Tuesday 22 January 2008

"Death trap failed to protect soldier …"

In a piece written by Thomas Harding, The Daily Telegraph offers the headline, "'Death trap' failed to protect soldier from mine". The piece notes that a "defence expert has called for the removal of Pinzgauer vehicles from Afghanistan after a sixth soldier was killed in one of the armoured vehicles within a year." The story continues:

With six deaths from Pinzgauers (Thomas Harding includes two "accidental" deaths) since last August, military observers are questioning their value. Dr Richard North, editor of the Defence of the Realm blog, said the vehicles were "death traps" that should be replaced by mine-resistant Mastiff trucks. "These things offer very little protection against the mines we are seeing in Afghanistan."

"The troops would even be better off in Snatch Land Rovers," he added, referring to the vehicles much derided in Iraq for offering little protection against roadside bombs. The MoD has bought hundreds of Pinzgauers. They have excellent off-road capabilities but offer little protection against the bombs that the Taliban use.
That is the bizarre thing. With the driver in the Pinzgauer actually sitting over the front wheel, while the driver of a Land Rover has the engine compartment in front of him, under certain circumstances, soldiers are safer in a Land Rover (see pic: a "Wolf" Land Rover - the crew survived).

One problem, though, is that many Russian anti-tank mines have variable "impact" settings, which means that a mine can be set explode on the second or subsequent wheel impact. Thus, the Taleban can set the mine to go off the second time a wheel passes over it (with up to six delays), causing it to explode under the rear of a vehicle rather than the front. This might account for why we seem to be losing so many WIMIK gunners, where the rear compartment has less protection than the front.

But it really does come to something when a "Snatch" (or a WIMIK for that matter) can be safer than the vehicle the Army have used to replace it.