Germany begins deploying MANTIS C-RAM to Mali


The Germany military has begun deploying its Modular, Automatic and Network capable Targeting and Interception System (MANTIS) counter-rocket, artillery and mortar defence (C-RAM) system to Mali.

The Bundeswehr announced on 15 November that components of the system had been for the first time deployed to Mali where they form part of the Minusma peacekeeping mission.

MANTIS consists of sensor units, a fire control centre and several turrets but in Mali, only the sensor units and control system are used, at Camp Castor. It can detect approaching projectiles and predict where they will land. 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.

A number of peacekeepers in Mali have been killed by artillery and mortar strikes.

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 MANTIS system consists of six 35mm 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.

Mantis is capable of protecting military installations and forward-operating bases from incoming rocket, artillery and mortar fire.

Germany has a number of assets deployed in Mali, including NH90 transport and Tiger attack helicopters and Heron I unmanned aerial vehicles along with around 1 000 soldiers who are taking part in the 15,000-strong UN mission that oversees a peace deal agreed in 2015 between the government and rebels.

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.

Earlier this year the Bundeswehr announced plans to erect a surveillance tower, deploy air defence radars, and acquire aerostats for its Mali mission. The 30 metre high surveillance tower will accommodate such sensors as day/night cameras and will be used to protect the German base in Gao.

The Bundeswehr also plans to acquire tethered aerostats for surveillance.