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Mauritanian Army Acquires Chinese-Made Yitian-L Air Defense Systems with TY-90 Missiles.

Recent pictures shared on social media have revealed that the Mauritanian military has acquired Chinese-made Yitian-L short-range self-propelled air defense systems. The vehicle is armed with the TY-90 surface-to-air missiles, designed to intercept and destroy low-flying aircraft, helicopters, drones, and cruise missiles.
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Mauritanian army is now equipped with Chinese Yitian-L short-range mobile air defense systems  (Picture source: Social Media)

The Yitian-L, customized for the Mauritanian Armed Forces and based on a 4x4 Dongfeng tactical vehicle, is an advanced air defense vehicle designed to intercept and neutralize various aerial threats. This version is armed with a sophisticated missile system, prominently featuring four TY-90 missile launchers. These launchers can fire missiles designed to target aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and incoming missiles.

The Yitian-L's primary armament consists of four ready-to-fire TY-90 missiles housed in vertical launch containers. These missiles are renowned for their high speed, accuracy, and effective range and provide robust defense against fast-moving aerial threats.

The TY-90, also known as Tian Yan-90, is a Chinese air-to-air missile developed by China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC). Specifically designed for use on helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the TY-90 missile is notable for its compact size and specialized targeting capabilities.

The missile measures 1.86 meters in length and has a diameter of 0.09 meters, making it relatively small and lightweight at 20 kilograms. This compact form factor allows it to be easily integrated into a variety of aerial platforms without significantly impacting their performance or maneuverability.

Equipped with a solid-fuel rocket engine, the TY-90 offers reliable propulsion and consistent performance. It has an effective engagement range of up to 6 kilometers and can operate at altitudes ranging from 15 meters to 6,000 meters. Its design emphasizes efficiency and effectiveness in engaging air-to-air targets, providing an essential capability for modern aerial combat scenarios involving helicopters and UAVs.

The vehicle is also equipped with a highly advanced fire control system that enhances accuracy and response times. This system includes computerized targeting capabilities and supports direct and indirect fire, allowing the vehicle to engage targets in both line-of-sight and beyond-visual-range scenarios effectively. It also incorporates Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) technology, which ensures precise identification and engagement of enemy targets while avoiding friendly fire incidents.

A crucial component of Yitian-L's air defense capabilities is its radar system, which typically includes a 3D radar operating in the X-band. This radar can detect, track, and identify multiple targets simultaneously, providing real-time data to the fire control system for rapid and accurate missile launches.

Regarding protection, the Yitian-L is designed to safeguard its crew and maintain operational integrity in hostile environments. The vehicle features armor plating, Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological (NBC) protection systems, smoke grenade launchers, and an automatic fire extinguishing system.

Overall, the Yitian-L, with its advanced missile system, robust fire control and radar systems, and comprehensive protection measures, represents a formidable air defense asset for the Mauritanian Armed Forces, capable of defending against a wide range of aerial threats.

The acquisition of these systems enhances Mauritania's military capabilities, providing a robust air defense solution suitable for both mobile operations and stationary defense of critical assets. This move underscores Mauritania's commitment to modernizing its defense infrastructure amid evolving regional security challenges.

The Mauritanian Armed Forces, officially known as the Forces Armées de Mauritanie, comprise the Army, Navy, Air Force, and National Gendarmerie. With a focus on maintaining internal security and combating regional threats, Mauritania has invested in modernizing its military capabilities. The armed forces are primarily tasked with border security, counter-terrorism operations, and maintaining peace and order within the country. Their training and equipment reflect a blend of traditional military structure with a growing emphasis on rapid response and counter-insurgency capabilities​.

Mauritania faces several security threats in its region, primarily from extremist groups and organized crime. The Sahel region, in particular, is plagued by the presence of militant Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and affiliates of ISIS, which operate across porous borders and engage in smuggling, kidnapping, and terrorist attacks. Additionally, the country's vast and sparsely populated desert areas provide a challenging environment for effective border control, making it susceptible to illicit activities such as drug trafficking and human smuggling. The Mauritanian military's focus on enhancing its air defense and rapid response capabilities reflects its strategic priority to address these multifaceted security challenges and protect its sovereignty and stability in a volatile region​.

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