Animal rights campaigners expressed outrage last night after the Ministry of Defence admitted blowing up 119 live pigs in explosives tests.
The MoD defended the experiments, saying they had ‘saved many lives’ in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They have led to improvements in body armour and the medical treatment of soldiers injured by roadside bombs, it said.
But animal welfare activists criticised the ‘unethical’ practice of causing ‘massive mutilation and injury’ to the pigs.
The research took place at the Government’s secret military research laboratory Porton Down, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, between 2006 and 2009.
Official figures reveal 25 pigs were used in improvised explosive device experiments in 2006, 19 in 2007, 40 in 2008, and 35 in 2009. The animals are anaesthetised before the explosions.
The breed of pigs used in the experiments have skin similar to humans.
Scientists say the tests allow them to see injuries consistent with those inflicted by the Taliban on the battlefield and devise more effective post-traumatic techniques.
The MoD also wraps pigs in materials used to make body armour, such as Kevlar, to determine how effective it is at reducing damage from IEDs.
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection said: ‘Not only are such experiments scientifically questionable… subjecting pigs to such massive mutilation and injury also raises profound ethical questions.’
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has written to ministers urging them to stop the practice.
An RSPCA spokesman said the MoD was required to carry out the tests under strict controls, but added: ‘For many, such a use of animals represents a distressing example of the price animals can end up paying as a result of humans’ inhumanity towards other humans.’