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MANTIS becomes operational in Mali

MANTIS CRAM system.The Germany military’s Modular, Automatic and Network capable Targeting and Interception System (MANTIS) counter-rocket, artillery and mortar defence (C-RAM) system has become operational in Mali where it is warning peacekeepers of incoming enemy fire.

The German Ministry of Defence (MoD) said MANTIS became operational on 24 January when it began protecting the German Camp Castor and the adjacent United Nations camp in Gao as part of the Minusma mission in Mali. “Thus, the Bundeswehr fulfils a capability requirement of the United Nations for a warning system for the two camps,” the German defence ministry said.

German camps are well protected against external threats through fences, bulkheads and special checkpoints and now, through MANTIS, are also protected against threat from the air. MANTIS provides early warning of incoming projectiles and gives the impact point of incoming rounds as well as the point of firing, allowing for soldiers to be sent to the launch site. Depending on the distance, an early warning time of 20 to 30 seconds is created, in which soldiers can move to safety, the Bundeswehr said.

MANTIS consists of sensor units, a fire control centre and several 35 mm turrets but in Mali, only the sensor units and control system are used, giving it sense and warn capability only.

MANTIS is produced by Rheinmetall Air Defence, and is part of the Germany army’s future SysFla air-defence project. The C-RAM system is supposed to detect, track and shoot down incoming projectiles before they can reach their target within very close range. The system itself is based on OerlikonContraves' Skyshield air defence gun system.

A full MANTIS system consists of six 35 mm automatic guns, a ground control unit and two sensor units. The entire system is fully automated. The guns fire programmable "Ahead" ammunition, developed by Rheinmetall Weapons and Munitions - Switzerland. The ammunition carries a payload of 152 tungsten projectiles weighing 3.3g each.

The German Bundeswehr took over the first MANTIS system in January 2011. It has been deployed to Afghanistan.

Some 100 peacekeepers have died in Mali, where France launched a military operation in 2013 to push back Islamists who a year earlier had hijacked an ethnic Tuareg uprising in the north of the country.

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