Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 12:16 UK

Blast-hit marine praises Jackal

Sgt Mark Haigh
Sgt Mark Haigh suffered minor injuries when his vehicle went over a mine

A Royal Marine who survived a direct mine explosion in Afghanistan has praised the armoured vehicle he was travelling in for saving his life.

Sgt Mark Haigh, from Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade, said he was "living proof" the "Jackal" works.

He was speaking during a feedback session for the Jackal's manufacturers, Supacat, in Honiton, Devon.

There have been questions about the level of protection from blasts offered by the Jackal following fatalities.

The company said the feedback was crucial to making its new vehicles as protected as possible against attack.

Sgt Haigh, who recently returned from a six-month deployment to Helmand province with the UK Landing Force Support Group, said: "I'm living proof that the Jackal does what it is designed to do, it works.

He was passing through a "vulnerable" area when a mine went off under his vehicle.

The enemy is watching the troops all the time for their weak spots, ready to ambush them and take them out
Defence analyst Richard North

"Me and the driver suffered lower limb injuries but they were minor, so we've fully recovered and we're back at work," he said.

The Jackal is designed to travel at speed across "extreme terrain" and deflect blasts from mines or rockets away from its occupants.

It was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and 200 are now being used by the armed forces.

A £74m contract for 110 of the upgrade vehicle, Jackal 2, was signed in April.

They were bought as an alternative to the Snatch Land Rover which has been criticised for not offering enough protection from improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

However, there have been a number of fatalities involving the Jackal, including the death of three soldiers from the Parachute Regiment who were killed in August when their vehicle was hit by an explosion and small arms fire.

The company said some of the marine's feedback had been about the "survivability" of those travelling inside the Jackal and designers would be using their comments to work on giving the "best protection against mines and small arms fire to enable the crew to survive".

But Richard North, a defence analyst, said while the speedy Jackal was "the ultimate in functionalism" it was the "wrong vehicle" for the combat situation in Afghanistan.

"The problem is not the tool, it's the definition of the job," he said.

"The enemy is watching the troops all the time for their weak spots, ready to ambush them and take them out."

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Cpl Chris Gardener on how the Jackal armoured vehicle works.



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