British forces are forced to put up nets to protect vehicles from missile attacks on missions to promote peace in West Africa
- Soldiers now use ‘missile dismantling nets’ after attacking troops in Mali
- The net prevents a warhead from detonating in the event of a collision with a vehicle
- A defense source says the UN mission in Mali is more dangerous than people think
Hundreds of British troops on a mission to promote peace in West Africa have been forced to use lifesaving nets to protect their vehicles from missile attacks.
Soldiers of the Light Dragoons and Royal Anglian Regiments deployed ‘missile dismantling nets’ after deadly attacks on foreign forces in Mali.
Using a technique known as ‘fuse shrinking’, the network prevents a warhead from detonating upon impact with the vehicle.
A photo obtained by the Daily Mail shows the net attached to a Foxhound vehicle used in long-range patrols
The missile still hits its target and can do significant damage, but no explosion takes place – meaning no human life is lost in the vehicle.
Manufactured in the UK, the Tarian net has previously been used with great success in Afghanistan. In December, 300 British troops were sent to Mali – the most important deployment of British forces since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the time, experts warned Britain was at risk of getting into another costly military campaign.
British defense officials insisted that the troops acted merely as UN peacekeepers.
But since then, a series of deadly jihadist attacks on UN personnel has persuaded British commanders to improve security measures.
In late December and early January, five French troops were killed in clashes with jihadists in Mali. A guard can be seen above in Libya, another country hit by war
Last month, 20 UN peacekeepers were injured in an attack on their base. In January, four UN troops were killed and five injured when terrorists planted a roadside bomb along their patrol route.
A photo obtained by the Daily Mail shows the net attached to a Foxhound vehicle used in long-range patrols.
A defense source said: ‘I’m not surprised it’s just being added as the deployment in Mali is more dangerous than most people think. While British forces are not there to conduct counter-terrorist operations, their mere presence provides a target for jihadists.
This is the most deadly UN mission in the world based on the number of so-called peacekeepers who have died there in recent years. In essence, there is no peace to keep. ‘
The military is constantly reviewing operations to ensure that the correct resources are being used and lessons learned. Risks to British forces are also constantly being assessed.
The Tarian anti-missile net has been with British forces since its inception, but this is the first time it has been attached to British vehicles.
The 300 British troops are part of a 14,000-strong UN stabilization force drawn from 56 countries. It is unrelated to a French-led anti-terrorism operation in Mali, which is considered higher risk.
In late December and early January, five French troops were killed in clashes with jihadists in Mali. Seventeen French troops also died there in 2019.
British forces were deployed to conduct long-range reconnaissance patrols in desert areas.
Last year, an RAF helicopter pilot serving in Mali warned in a British military magazine that any suggestion that British forces might avoid jihadists was false.
Chinook Pilot Flight Lieutenant Andy Donovan said: ‘It would be naive to suggest that British ground forces are likely to avoid confrontation with aggressive armed groups simply because they play a peacekeeping role. Direct assignments are to be expected. ‘
Last night, the Ministry of Defense said: ‘The United Nations stabilization mission in Mali is operating in a challenging environment and an in-depth analysis of the duties and threats posed by the British contingent was completed prior to deployment. A range of equipment has been chosen and British personnel are given proper protection to carry out their UN peacekeeping mission. ‘