History and construction
To implement a deep modernization of the Swiss-Canadian machine, two major US defense concerns were attracted: General Dynamics and General Motors. At various stages in the project, called IAV (Interim Armored Vehicle - “Intermediate Armored Transport”), various departments of these companies participated. In this case, the main work was assigned to the Canadian branch of General Dynamics Land Systems, which used to be an independent GMC company and developed armored vehicles of the LAV family. The technical assignment for new cars was issued at the very beginning of 2000 of the year. At about the same time, the IAV program received another name - Stryker. According to the American tradition of the designation of armored vehicles, the new platform was named after the famous military. And this time in honor of two at once. This is Private First Class Stuart S. Stryker, who died 1945 in March, and fourth-grade specialist Robert F. Stryker, who did not return from Vietnam. For their heroism, both Strykers were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor - the highest US military award.
When creating the Stryker armored platform, the maximum possible amount of the existing GMC developments was used. For this reason, for example, the overall layout and hull shape of a new protected vehicle remained almost the same as that of the LAV. The Caterpillar C7 diesel horsepower 350 is located in the front right side of the armored hull. Through the Allison 3200SP transmission, engine torque is transmitted to all eight wheels. In this case, a special pneumatic mechanism at the driver's command can turn off the front four wheels. This mode of operation with the wheel formula 8х4 is used for high-speed traffic on the highway. In the case of the base model of an armored personnel carrier (combat weight of the order of 16,5 tons) 350-strong engine provides speed up to one hundred kilometers per hour on the highway. Other variants of the Stryker, having a large combat mass, are not able to accelerate to such speeds and lose a little in this parameter to the base armored personnel carrier. Fuel reserve is enough for a march up to 500 kilometers. The wheel suspension system is borrowed from LAV without significant changes. The front four wheels received a spring suspension, the rear - torsion. In view of the assumed weight of the machines of the family, the suspension elements were slightly strengthened. As it turned out, the gain was insufficient.
The armored body of the Stryker is also a further development of the LAV project, but it has a number of significant differences. First of all, it is worth noting a large body height. To ensure the convenience of accommodating the crew, assault force, ammunition, etc., as well as to protect against mine explosions, it was necessary to rework the bottom profile and, as a result, increase the height of the hull. The latter was made to compensate for the "stolen" V-shaped bottom volume. As a result, the total height of the base armored personnel carrier (on the roof) was 25-30 centimeters more than the LAV vehicle. Increasing the height of the hull affected its contours. The upper part of it looks significantly different from the Canadian armored personnel carrier - the upper frontal part is longer and fits further with the roof, almost in front of the second axle. The Stryker armored hull is welded from panels up to 12 millimeters thick. Through the use of different grades of steel, protection is achieved that corresponds to the fourth level of the STANAG 4569 standard in frontal projection and the second to third from all other areas. In other words, the “native” front plates of the Stryker machine withstand the hit of armor-piercing bullets of 14,5 caliber of millimeters and fragments of a 155-mm projectile that exploded at a distance of about 30 meters. Boards and sterns, in turn, protect the crew, landing force and internal units only from 7,62 caliber mm armor-piercing bullets. In general, such protection indicators are not special, but they were considered sufficient and optimal in terms of the weight of the structure. Even at the initial design stage, the possibility of installing an additional reservation was provided. All machines of the Stryker family can be equipped with protection systems MEXAS manufactured by the German company IBD Deisenroth. When installing metal-ceramic panels, the level of protection is significantly improved. In this case, the sides and stern of the machine withstand the hit of bullets of caliber 14,5 mm, and the frontal parts - hit of 30-millimeter shells.
The armament of the Strykers depends on the specific model, its range is quite diverse. Armament complexes should be considered in the light of the available armored vehicles of the family.
- M1126 ICV. Infantry Combat Vehicle is a basic armored personnel carrier vehicle. Carries a crew of two people and has nine seats for the landing. In the stern there is a ramp that can be folded down to land and disembark. On the ICV light turret, the M2HB heavy machine gun or the Mk.19 automatic grenade launcher can be mounted. In addition, there are devices for mounting a machine gun rifle caliber, for example, M240;
- M1127 RV. Reconnaissance Vehicle - armored reconnaissance vehicle. The armament complex is similar to the base armored vehicle. At the same time, in order to transmit information on the progress of the reconnaissance raid, the M1127 has a crew of three (a radio operator has been entered), and the number of landing places has been reduced to four;
- M1128 MGS. Mobile Gun System - "Mobile gun installation." Armored platform with an automatic turret installed on it for the 105-mm gun M68A1. The rifled gun is located in an uninhabited tower of relatively small size and is equipped with an automatic loader. The MGS main ammunition, ready to fire, consists of 18 shells. In the fighting compartment can accommodate an additional amount of ammunition, but in this case, the crew will have to manually load them into the automatic loader. Auxiliary weapon - M2HB machine gun coupled with a gun and smoke grenade launchers. Of particular interest is the sighting system of the machine M1128. A crew of three people has night-vision equipment and all-weather sights. In addition, all actions to control the fire are carried out using remote systems, which increases the survivability of the machine and crew. In terms of its firepower, the M1128 MGS is comparable to the M60 Patton tank;
- M1129 MC. Mortar Carrier - self-propelled mortar. A pivoting platform and an 120-mm M6 mortar (aka Soltam K6) of Israeli design are installed in the troop compartment. Immediately placed boxes with ammunition. The crew of the M1129 MC consists of five people. In this case, directly with the mortar work only three. With a rate of fire of up to five rounds per minute, the M1129 MC self-propelled mortar can hit targets with conventional mines at a distance of up to 7200 meters and active-reactive at distances up to 10,5 km.
- M1130 CV. Command Vehicle - command and staff machine. Communications equipment and commanders' workstations are located in the troop compartment. Each company is entitled to two CMH M1130;
- M1131 FSV. Fire Support Vehicle is an intelligence and targeting vehicle. It differs from the basic M1126 armored personnel carrier only by the presence of additional communication equipment that is compatible with all standards used in NATO, as well as by a set of equipment for conducting visual reconnaissance, including at night;
- M1132 ESV. Engineer Squad Vehicle - engineering machine. Equipment for installation and neutralization of mines is installed on the chassis of the base Stryker. The main external difference from other machines of the family is the dozer blade. With it, you can dig mines or produce clearing debris;
- M1133 MEV. Medical Evacuation Vehicle - Sanitary evacuation vehicle. At the rear of the hull, the armored car is equipped with a special squared armored unit. Inside it are places for the wounded. Internal volumes of sanitary M1133 allow to place up to two physicians and up to six sedentary patients. If necessary, there is the possibility of transporting two lying wounded. Own equipment of the machine allows you to provide first aid and conducts a series of resuscitation measures. A set of medical equipment was selected so that the M1133 crew could take the fighters to the hospital even with severe injuries and injuries;
- M1134 ATGM. Anti-Tang Guilded Missile - anti-tank machine with guided missiles. In this version, an Emerson TUA turret with two launchers for BGM-71 TOW missiles of later modifications is installed on a standard chassis. The maximum ammunition capacity of the AGTM machine reaches fifteen missiles;
- M1135 NBCRV. Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle - machine for radiation, biological and chemical reconnaissance. The machine is devoid of any weapons systems, in addition to the personal weapons of the crew. The crew of four people works in a fully sealed hull and has the equipment necessary to determine signs of radiation, chemical or biological contamination. In addition, NBCRV is equipped with communication tools to quickly transfer infection data.
Through the use of developments in the previous LAV project, General Dynamics Land Systems was able to quickly carry out all the design and test work. Already in the autumn of 2002, the first armored vehicles of the Stryker family were put into service, and in November of the same year, General Motors and General Dynamics Land Systems received an order for the supply of 2131 units of new equipment. The total cost of deliveries exceeded four billion dollars. The first copies of the vehicles entered the troops at the very beginning of the next 2003 of the year. In quantitative terms, the order of the armed forces was quite heterogeneous. Most of the cars ordered had to be built in the configuration of armored personnel carriers. Second in number - command and staff vehicles. Self-propelled mortars, reconnaissance, self-propelled guns and anti-tank Strikers were planned to be purchased in significantly smaller quantities.
Just a couple of months after the start of deliveries of new armored vehicles, the United States launched a war against Iraq. Already after the end of the main fighting, in October 2003, the transfer to Iraq of units armed with Stryker armored vehicles began. The first to go to the Middle East were fighters and vehicles of the 3 Brigade (2 Infantry Division) from Fort Lewis. Since November of the same year, they have been actively involved in maintaining order and patrolling various areas of Iraq. A year later, the 3 Brigade was replaced by the 1 Brigade of the 25 Division. Further, the change of "intermediate" units occurred regularly, and over time the service life was reduced: instead of a year, the soldiers began to be in Iraq twice as short. By the time the 3 Brigade of the 2 Infantry Division arrived, the main part of the war was over, and the opponents of NATO forces switched to guerrilla tactics. At this stage, in view of its characteristic features, a number of flaws in the design and tactics of the use of Strykers manifested themselves. Even before the end of the 3 brigade, negative reviews began to appear about the new technique. By the end of 2004, a special Pentagon commission prepared a voluminous report on the results of the use of armored personnel carriers and other vehicles of the Stryker family in real combat conditions.
This report caused a lot of controversy, which almost led to the closure of the entire program. Almost all project elements, from the engine to the seat belts, were criticized by specialists. The power plant and chassis "Strayker" was convenient and fully suitable for driving on the highway, but when driving off-road, there were big problems. Due to the not quite high power density (about 18-20 hp per ton of weight), even the base BTR is sometimes elm in the sand and required third-party assistance. Under certain conditions, it was necessary to “drive” the engine at maximum modes, which had a bad effect on its resource. In addition, there were often problems with the wheels and suspension. As it turned out, the done increase in depreciation and suspension was insufficient. Suspension resource was significantly less than calculated. Another trouble with the chassis was caused by a relatively large mass of combat. Because of it, the wheels taken from the LAV required regular and frequent pumping, which is not quite acceptable for use in combat conditions. Finally, there were cases when, after a couple of days of active use of the machine in difficult conditions, it was necessary to replace the tires. All this was the reason for recommending to strengthen the chassis design.
The second serious complaint concerned the level of protection. The Stryker armored hull was designed to protect against small arms bullets. If necessary, you could use hinged armor. However, in real conditions, the enemy preferred to fire armored personnel carriers not from machine guns and machine guns, but from anti-tank grenade launchers. Despite the solid age of the Soviet RPG-7, they were actively used by Iraqi armed forces. It is quite obvious that even additional metal-ceramic panels did not provide protection against such threats. Even before the completion of the report, several 3 brigade machines were equipped with anti-cumulation grilles. The grid panels were attached to the MEXAS armor attachments. When using gratings, the level of protection against cumulative ammunition increased significantly, although they did not become a panacea. The amount of damage to the hull was reduced, but it was not possible to completely get rid of them. However, the anti-cumulative grilles had one unpleasant side effect - the protective structure turned out to be rather heavy, which worsened the driving characteristics. The same thing was said in the report about additional MEXAS panels. As for the V-shaped mine bottom, there were almost no complaints about it. It coped well with its tasks and set aside the blast wave. It was noted that mine protection only deals with those explosive devices for which it is designed: up to ten kilograms in TNT equivalent.
Another security issue was complex and touched several sides of the structure at once. The Straykers had a relatively high center of gravity. Under certain conditions, this could lead to a coup machine. In total, over the years of operation of armored vehicles of this family, several dozens of similar cases were recorded, both due to the explosion under the bottom or the wheel, and due to difficult road conditions. In general, the increased likelihood of falling on its side was not something particularly dangerous, which required special attention, in addition to the corresponding points in the driving manual. However, in the first few months of using the Stryker armored personnel carrier in Iraq, three soldiers were killed while overturning vehicles. The reason for these incidents recognized the wrong design of seat belts for the crew and the landing force. As it turned out, they firmly held the person only with small shocks. With a serious overload, the used belts were useless, which eventually resulted in human casualties.
The armament complex, in general, did not cause any special complaints. The only requirement was the addition of a limiter for an automatic grenade launcher. At a certain position of the barrel, an accidental shot could lead to a grenade hitting the commander’s or driver’s hatch. Fortunately, there were no such incidents, but precaution with the limiter was considered important and necessary. As for the poor accuracy and accuracy of the Mk.19 grenade launcher when firing in motion, they are no longer news and in the report were mentioned only in passing, as an inevitable evil. The structure of the equipment "Strayker" includes several night-vision devices, including weapons associated with the sight. However, these devices initially gave a black and white picture. In a number of conditions, such an image is not sufficient to determine the purpose, in particular, during operations of a police nature, when, for example, exact identification of vehicles is required, including by color. The Pentagon Commission recommended replacing night vision devices with more convenient and efficient ones.
After the publication of the report, the use of armored personnel carriers and other vehicles of the Stryker family was limited. After several months of fierce disputes, we decided to continue the operation of these machines, but as soon as possible to re-equip the existing equipment in accordance with the results of operation, and immediately build all the new machines according to the updated project. Fortunately for the Pentagon’s financiers, by the time the report was published, General Dynamics Land Systems and General Motors had managed to build only a small part of the machines ordered. In this regard, subsequent batches of armored personnel carriers, self-propelled guns, etc. manufactured with the identified problems. At the same time there were no significant changes. Armored cars received new electronics, regular anti-cumulation grilles and a number of other fixes. In 2008, the Pentagon ordered 600 more than more machines of various configurations. They were originally built on the updated project.
“Congenital” design and equipment deficiencies, which had to be corrected in the course of production, led to a noticeable increase in the cost of the program. In the case of a complete transfer of intermediate brigades and divisions to the Stryker machines, the total value of orders for equipment can pass through the 15 mark of billions of dollars. Initially, it was planned to spend about 12 billion on equipping six brigades and building related infrastructure. It is worth noting that the figure in 15 billions of dollars still fits into the plans of the Pentagon and Congress: from the very beginning of the IAV Stryker program, it was envisaged to reserve two to three billion in case of an unexpected increase in expenses.
Despite the considerable efforts made to eliminate the identified deficiencies, the look of the armored vehicles of the Stryker family continues to be ambiguous. On the one hand, the combat qualities of the cars improved markedly, but on the other, they became more expensive and less convenient to transport. The last question is as follows: the characteristics of the main American military transport aircraft C-130 make it possible to transport most of the Stryker family of vehicles. In addition, earlier in some cases, additional booking modules could be placed on board the aircraft. Thus, the transportation of a unit required as many planes as there were armored vehicles in a company, a battalion, etc. With the addition of full-time anti-cumulation gratings, the situation has become more complicated. The dimensions and weight of this protection are such that the list of Stryker modifications that can be transported with all the additional protection has been reduced to a couple of cars. Thus, for the transfer of units it is necessary to allocate additional transport aircraft for the transport of armor modules and hinged grilles. All this most directly affects the cost of operating armored vehicles.
Further improvement of the Stryker is in the direction of improving electronics, upgrading weapons and installing new protective equipment. In particular, it is planned to create and launch dynamic protection modules for the series, however, due to a number of design features, this will not be very easy. In principle, the Americans could try to make a completely new armored platform. However, all or almost all the ways for such a “retreat” were blocked ten years ago, when the Pentagon, not taking into account possible problems, ordered more than two thousand armored personnel carriers and other vehicles of the family at once. As a result, a lot of money was spent on building machines that were not quite ready for war, and the creation of new equipment and its large-scale production would cost even more. Thus, the US Army remains the only modernization of the Stryker, at least in the coming years. But at this rate of improvement, the “Strykers” need for a completely new armored platform can mature much earlier than planned.
One of the reasons for all the failures of the IAV Stryker program is the fallacy of the concept itself. One of the authors of the idea of intermediate brigades, General Eric Shinseki, who at one time headed the headquarters of the US Army, systematically advanced his proposal for the rapid creation of a new structure and its equally rapid equipment. General Shinseki repeatedly stated that the state of the army fifteen years ago did not meet the requirements of the time. Tank units were too "cumbersome", and motorized infantry - too weak in terms of weapons. The solution to the problem was to be a new family of vehicles, combining the mobility of light armored vehicles and the firepower of heavy ones. As you can see, the chosen path was not entirely correct, and the ground forces of the United States received combat vehicles that were not fully suitable for real combat conditions.
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