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'Most Innovative Defense Technology' 2008 Award Nominee

Jackal (M-WMIK) All Terrain Vehicle

Supacat

After encountering excessive casualties with light weapon carriers Land-Rovers, (WMIK), the British Ministry of defence (MoD) responded to an Urgent Operational request to send out a heavier vehicle, which could be better adapted to the operating conditions in Afghanistan, providing an armor protected platform with superior cross-country mobility. The M-WMIK introduced a new platform, based on a 4x4 high-mobility chassis produced by Supacat. The Jackal is perfectly suited to the operational terrain of southern Afghanistan, where speed and maneuverability are essential. Unlike the homogenous Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks, the M-WMIK, dubbed Jackal is fast and extremely agile - as Royal Marines Brigadier Buster Howes describes as 'a complete revelation'. (more...)

The first Jackals were deployed earlier in 2008 to Afghanistan, operating with the 16 Air Assault Brigade. In October 2008 it was fielded with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. MoD plans to procure about 200 such vehicles. The vehicle uses a unique airbag suspension system allowing a smooth ride over the roughest terrain and provides a more stable firing platform, while the vehicle is in motion. The revolutionary system can also raise the seven-tonne beast by more than a metre, allowing the vehicle to clear large obstacles, or enable its occupants to gain a better view of the field of operations. Jackal uses an independent suspension for each wheel to soften the ride over rough terrain. "Each suspension arm is independent so when you are cross-country and you hit a bump, the shock is only felt over one wheel while the ride continues to be completely stable and safe," said Royal Marines Captain Orlando Roger. In addition to the suspension system, Jackal features a unique air-bag suspension allowing rapid movement off road. On road this 6.65 ton vehicle can travel 80 mph (130 km/h) but it is over tougher terrain where it excels traveling (officially) at up to 40 mph (80 km/h). According to Capt. Roger 'It can do more than 50 miles an hour over most terrain – it's like driving a dune buggy !".

The vehicle, procured in just seven months, was originally designed as a purpose-built weapons platform and that is where Jackal comes into its own. The vehicles have a crew of three and are armed with a .50 calibre machine gun, automatic grenade launcher or 7.62 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) with a second 7.62 GPMG for the Commander. The jackal carries a general purpose machine gun and either a heavy machine gun or grenade machine gun, giving it heavy fire power over a 360 degree arc .

Reasons for recommendation

Jackal is a unique vehicle for special missions. It is optimized for operation in the open desert, where it can roam the rocky terrain and dry ravines. As a desert animal, water crossing is not its forte. Heavy armor is also not in its character. The vehicle has an integrated protection system and reinforced armor plating, but Jackal's main defenses are its mobility and agility. Unlike the Mastiff, which is heavily armored against all types of threats, Jackal is designed to survive a punch or, preferably, evade the hit with its ability to drive off-road, thus bypassing common IED ambushes. However, offroad movement is not always an option. In October 2008, a Jackal operated by the Household Cavalry Regiment north of Forward Operating Base 'Delhi' in Helmand was hit by a mine, killing the driver and wounding the other two crew members. few weeks later another Jackal was hit by an IED, killing two Marines and an Afghan interpreter. Newly arrived in Helmand, the marines were supporting Afghan troops in the area. They took part in a routine, joint patrol with soldiers from the Afghan National Security Forces, part of Task Force Helmand's Information Exploitation Group. This event should reiterate the fact that combat vehicles are not necessarily 'go anywhere, multi-purpose'. Just as one cannot expect the MRAP to go cross country, Jackal shouldn't move along known and beaten tracks. Let it roam the desert, where it belongs.

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