The Daily Telegraph has featured an article claiming that there is concern about the safety of the Jackal vehicle after Corporal Dean John and Corporal Graeme Stiff of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers were killed while on patrol in a Jackal on Sunday. The article claims that the Jackal was introduced “following the debacle over the flimsy Snatch Land Rover”.
It is incorrect for the Telegraph to imply that Jackal was purchased as a replacement for Snatch – it is an entirely different vehicle designed for a different purpose.
Jackal was bought to provide Afghanistan with a weapons platform that had greater payload and mobility than the Land Rover WMIKs. It is one of the most agile and versatile vehicles on operations and has received enormous acclaim from the soldiers on the ground. It has high levels of off-road mobility enabling troops to avoid well-trodden routes, giving them a degree of unpredictability – an essential tactical asset in itself.
The design of the vehicle hull incorporates advanced armour protection features. Jackal is able to operate in open desert and mountainous terrain, taking the fight to the enemy away from ground of their choosing, and is proving a significant success.
The more highly armoured a vehicle is, the less mobile it is; there is always a balance to be struck between the two. Heavily armoured vehicles may offer better protection, but can either be too large to reach difficult locations or, in causing damage to local infrastructure, can alienate local people and fuel sympathy for insurgents. We must leave it to commanders in the field to balance the risks as they see fit in order to achieve their mission.
Keeping our troops safe in vehicles is achieved by a mixture of factors, including tactics techniques and procedures (TTPs), which are enabled by mobility over arduous terrain. Commanders on the ground continue to assert that survivability is 60% TTPs, 30% equipment and 10% good fortune.
Jackal gives protection against a range of threats while facilitating greater operational choice for commanders at all levels. Our approach is to give commanders a choice. This is reflected in the provision of Mastiff and Ridgback (which will shortly arrive in Afghanistan), and beyond that our work on the protected mobility package that was announced by the Secretary of State last year.
This will provide a range of light, medium and heavy support vehicles effectively broadening the range of options available.