The German military plans to deploy its Modular, Automatic and Network capable Targeting and Interception System (MANTIS) counter-rocket, artillery and mortar defence (C-RAM) system to Mali.
The Luftwaffe told IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly that deployment in the “sense and warn” configuration, without 35 mm guns, is expected in November to deal with the increasing threat of rockets and mortars – a number of peacekeepers in the African country have been killed by such strikes.
MANTIS is produced by Rheinmetall Air Defence, and is part of the Germany army’s future SysFla air-defence project.
The NBS 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 Oerlikon Contraves’ 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, but this could take several years before deliveries begin.