Friday 7 September 2007

A killer of men

click the pic to enlargeFollowing on from yesterday's post about the Supacat M-WIMIK, or "MV", as it is called in the field (now called the Jackal - ed), we have since received high definition photographs of the vehicle actually on operations (sensitive details obscured).

The detail is sufficient to confirm absolutely that it is unarmoured, particularly the all-important wheel arches, which take the brunt of the force in the event of a mine strike or a hit from some types of IED (pictured, with the contrast artificially enhanced).

But another important detail (arrowed) is the Kevlar matting used as locally applied armour. Of special note is the left-hand arrow which points to matting used to line the floor of the cab in the vain attempt to confer some protection from the inevitable mine strike – a provision which demonstrates that the crews recognise the vulnerability of the vehicle.

It is utterly bizarre that a brand new, £250,000 vehicle, developed specifically for service in Afghanistan should be so unprotected that crews are impelled to add their own armour. This is redolent of the 1960s, in Aden (pictured) when the floors of trucks were lined with sandbags in order to reduce the force of mine strikes.

Forty years later, we have moved on, but only in the sense that we are now using Kevlar matting rather than sandbags, to overcome inherent vulnerabilities in operational vehicles.

But what is entirely unforgivable is that the need for supplementary armour has already been established, viz the soldiers of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, stationed in Afghanistan, who found it necessary to add protection to their own desperately vulnerable WIMIK Land Rovers.

And it was two soldiers from that same unit who, despite using additional armour, two days ago were killed in one of these WIMIKs by an IED.

Last night, in a BBC Television Newsnight special, we saw defence procurement minister Lord Drayson, telling the world that everything possible was being done for our troops. This scandalous situation gives a lie to this claim. At enormous expense, he is sending troops out, some to certain death, as a result of his decision to procure badly designed and wholly inadequate vehicles.

This, clearly, is not a question of money – it is a combination of reckless stupidity and arrogance, the end result being a vehicle that can only be described as a killer of men.