A platoon from the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (1 R WELSH) who survived two bomb blasts in two days in Afghanistan have been speaking of their admiration for the Mastiff armoured vehicle that saved their lives.
Soldiers praise Mastiff after surviving two bomb blasts in two days 24 June 2010
The soldiers were on patrol in the vehicle earlier this year in the Babaji district of central Helmand, Afghanistan, when their vehicle was struck by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in two separate incidents.
Platoon Commander Lieutenant Mark Lewis said: "The first IED strike blew the Mastiff across the road. I was top cover at the time and blown out of the turret but stopped from landing in the nearby field by the cam net. Once the dust settled I could hear the lads in the cabin. I dropped down fearing the worst, not knowing what I would see next. Thankfully they were all OK, with only minor injuries and the next day we were all back out on patrol."
Lance Corporal Kristian Orton was providing top cover for another Mastiff when he saw his comrades caught in the first IED blast. He said: "I man the 50 cal gun, so if anything happens you are the initial response because you will be the first to see it. It wasn't pleasant to see the lads take a hit but I knew that they would be OK. I feel safe in the vehicle because I know first hand that it can withstand the impact of an IED. They are an invaluable tool to those on the frontline."
Lieutenant Lewis and his men were back on duty the next day in another area of the province which was known to have IEDs. He continued: "I was more than happy to go out again in the vehicle after the first explosion because I knew that it would keep me safe. This time I was out with my platoon which was split into two separate vehicles. The area we were in was known to have IEDs and as we were calling in for support we came under fire. As we were manovering my Mastiff to get into a better position we were hit by one of the IEDs. It wasn't particularly nice getting hit but at the end of the day the vehicle did its job and took the brunt of the explosion, which saved our lives."
Fusilier Danny Hughes was driving the vehicle during the second blast. He said: "This is a good bit of kit. When we hit the device we were all shocked but we soon realised that everybody was OK and we just got on with our job. We are confident in the protection that this vehicle gives us against IEDs and we are all living proof that it works."
Mastiff is a heavily-armoured, 6x6 wheel-drive protected patrol vehicle, which carries eight people plus two crew. It is used to transport troops and protect large convoys as well as directly engaging the Taliban with its advanced weapons systems.
The seats in a Mastiff are designed to provide blast protection to the troops inside the vehicle. They have a load limiting element, which means they absorb the effect of the blast by dropping down, partially mitigating the upward force. This reduces the upward body force felt by the crew and significantly reduces the chance of injury.
More than 250 of the vehicles, in a range of different versions, are currently in service. A further 100 are planned for delivery.