The standard means of supporting indirect fire in SBCT brigades is a self-propelled mortar M1129 Mortar Carrier Vehicle version B
Since its introduction in 2002, the Stryker project has continuously evolved, finding its purpose in the intermediate mechanized teams that needed a fast and easy to deploy machine.
The project on the Stryker wheeled armored combat vehicle, initially deployed in the US Army as an interim solution, was aimed at the army's desire to diversify its staffing and organizational structure and get good deployability.
These new units were supposed to fill the tactical gap between heavy armored brigades with tanks M1 Abrams and BMP M2 Bradley and light infantry units. The former was difficult to deploy due to limited air transport, while the latter could deploy quickly, but did not have mobile secure means upon arrival.
In 1999, the Chief of the General Staff of the American Army, General Eric Shinseki, proposed to form new brigades based on vehicles with a lower level of protection than the main battle tanks (MBT) and infantry fighting vehicles, but with high ground mobility that could be transported by C-130 or larger transport aircraft.
As planned, this should have been autonomous combat units, which after receiving an order within 96 hours could be transferred by air and deployed immediately after landing for combat and other tasks. It was assumed that the most likely battle scenario would be the conduct of small contingents of operations against the low- and medium-level armed forces.
Turns of fate
Shinseki’s proposal reminded the previous attempt by the US Army infantry command to arm light armored vehicles when the army joined the marines in search of a similar machine back in the 80s of the last century. In the framework of the joint LAV (Light Armored Vehicle) armored vehicle program, in which the wheeled and tracked candidates participated, the Piranha 8x8 option from GM Defense of Canada (now part of General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS)) was chosen. After issuing the contract, the army conducted troop tests, but then withdrew from the program.
The goal of the system search program for the intermediate brigade was to find a machine that could be quickly deployed after minimal training and that could provide all eight configurations necessary to perform combat missions. GDLS's LAV III was selected as the platform that best met these criteria. She received the status of "ready for production," because by that time she was already in service with several other countries.
The machine, named "Stryker" in honor of two American heroes awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, was the only interim solution in anticipation of the Future Combat Systems Future Combat Systems program launched in 2003 year. Therefore, in this case, in order to meet the accelerated deployment schedule, compromises in this project could be quite justified. However, the abolition of the FCS program in 2008 year de facto guaranteed that for some time this platform would remain in service with the SBCT (Stryker brigade combat team - a mechanized brigade equipped with specialized Stryker wheeled combat vehicles).
Armored personnel carrier M1126 Stryker ICV
Development and improvement
The SBCT brigade is a major combined-arms tactical unit with its own armored personnel carriers, artillery mounts, self-propelled mortars, mobile long-range anti-tank missile launchers, reconnaissance, observation and fire support, engineering, staff and medical equipment having an equal level of mobility and protection. provided by the Stryker platform.
SBCT brigades have demonstrated that they can quickly and confidently move long distances and then perform combat missions. New features that gave the machine Stryker, forced to revise some of the traditional tactical techniques of armored / mechanized parts. As a result, the tactics of brigades were continuously improved, and this process played a significant role in increasing the efficiency of subunits and the combat capabilities of the machine.
The deployment of the Stryker machine caused an ambiguous reaction, here its role was played by its unique character and different visions of the prospects for heavy and light units. Prior to that, the US Army did not have an alternative in the form of a medium category vehicle, because during the reorganization of armored units at the end of the 70s, they received the M1 Abrams MBT and the M3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.
In the process of deploying Stryker machines, concepts, tactics and methods of warfare had to be specially developed for them. Stryker’s participation in combat operations hastened this process. Some problems, such as vulnerability from reactive anti-tank grenades, could have been foreseen in advance, since the Americans faced an RPG in Vietnam, and the Mujahideen’s use of this weapons in the Soviet-Afghan war was well documented. Other threats, such as the use of directional land mines and improvised explosive devices, were less predictable.
Stryker kinship with other machines from the MOWAG Piranha family, such as LAV-25, LAV III, ASLAV (Australian LAV) and Piranha versions from I to V, provides a ready-made model for improvements. The similarity of the machines deployed by the Australian army, the Belgian army, the Canadian army, the Irish army, the Saudi National Guard and the US Marine Corps and others, allows you to share experiences and share technical solutions.
Due to this, the community of Piranha / LAV / Stryker operators, GDLS divisions and many component suppliers implemented their innovations on a machine of one type, and then transferred it all to another type of machine with less financial investment and risk.
Combat reconnaissance vehicle M1127 Stryker RV
Protect and survive
The involvement of the Stryker armored vehicles in Iraq’s operations in 2003 gave impetus to the correction of deficiencies found in operation. Wendy Steiger, the Stryker project manager at GDLS, said that "from the very beginning, GD worked closely and successfully with its customers: with the US Marine Corps and the Canadian Army according to the LAV version, as well as with the American Army according to Stryker."
It was necessary to immediately increase the levels of protection and survivability. The frontal booking of the Stryker machine, which protects against 14,5 mm bullets, was reinforced with additional ceramic tiles, originally from the German company IBD Deisenroth Engineering, and later from the Canadian DEW Engineering.
Although even heavier machines were vulnerable to RPGs, the shaft of criticism struck precisely the vulnerability of the Stryker machine. The rapid development and installation in combat units of lattice screens to combat RPGs solved the problem, although at the cost of an additional two tons and greater width.
Later, at the end of 2009, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems began supplying SRAT (Stryker Reactive Armor Tiles) dynamic protection kits to replace the trellised armor. Although the SRAT kits yielded nothing to the mass savings, the width of the machine returned almost to the initial values.
Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan also highlighted another vulnerability — improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This unforeseen threat called into question not only the survivability of the Stryker, but almost every tactical vehicle on the balance sheet of the American army.
The flat bottom — a design feature common to most of these platforms — could not reflect the blast wave from the VCA, which caused the destruction of the hull structure and, as a result, led to serious consequences for the crew. A thorough and rigorous analysis of the structure was needed. By 2010, GDLS demonstrated for the Stryker a Double Vee-Hull (DVH) V-package solution, which effectively reflected the blast wave from the VCA. In combination with the energy-absorbing crew and landing seats, modified by the commander’s hatch and re-arranged storage sites, this has significantly increased the survivability of the crew and vehicles.
Although some specialists consider the wheel configuration as a disadvantage, the experience of operation and combat showed the exact opposite. Crews of cars from the SBCT brigades regularly performed combat missions and returned to the base even with a few destroyed wheels. Michelin radial-type tires were gradually refined, based on the operating experience of ASLAV machines, they became larger and received a more aggressive tread pattern.
In addition, Hutchinson's anti-wrinkle wheel inserts not only allow you to continue driving on damaged wheels, but also reduce the impact of the blast wave from mines. Hutchinson has developed side shields that protect the thinner side surfaces of radial tires from punctures, although they are not yet used on the Stryker.
A key feature of the Stryker machine is its ability to deploy military transport aviation
Mobility and vitality
Protecting the Stryker RPG and additional ballistic protection reduced suspension travel, power density, and increased ground pressure. For example, the mass of the BMP in the DVH configuration is over 16455 kg. Some variants of the Stryker, such as the MPG (Mobile Protected Gun) self-propelled artillery with the 105-mm gun, have already reached the limits of its suspension. As a result, security enhancements made on other Stryker machines were not implemented on MPG.
Based on a number of modifications to the undercarriage and power unit made on the LAV machines of the Canadian Army, GDLS offered a survival package for the Stryker. The US Army, using the funds allocated for the project of a double hull DVH, included several more important improvements.
All Stryker DVH configuration machines are overhauled at the Anniston Army Depot state plant, including a more powerful suspension designed for 27270 kg, a more powerful 450 hp engine, a generator for 910 amperes, increased driver protection and an internal digital high-speed network.
Tim Reese, business development manager at GDLS, explained: “These Stryker machine upgrades restore performance, increase survivability and improve system compatibility with new digital technologies. This work makes it possible, with smaller investments, to increase the capabilities of the machine as compared to the initial ones. ”
M1134 self-propelled ATGM with TOW-2 missiles provides fire support at long ranges
Firepower of ICV variant
The Stryker family of vehicles consists of eight variants, four of them have the main armament for direct combat. The remotely controlled combat module of the Norwegian company Kongsberg M153 Protector with the 12,7-mm machine gun M2 is installed on the armored personnel carrier M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV) and some others.
After being integrated into 2005, the TIM 1500 thermal imaging camera with the 640x480 matrix manufactured by BAE Systems was provided with longer detection ranges and higher resolution. The choice of the M153 module was due to its availability and classification by the American army by type, after which it received the designation Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS). However, it limits the installation of the CROWS module on such infantry combat vehicles, such as the Stryker, for example, the absence of a coaxial machine gun.
Common to the MBT and the BMP is the installation of twin machine guns to hit manpower and lightly armored vehicles; they can potentially cause less indirect damage compared to 12,7-mm machine guns. They are better suited for reconnaissance by fire when the enemy’s positions are opened in order to force them to reveal themselves.
Today, Elbit Systems, FN Herstal, Kongsberg, and a number of others are offering an SDS with 12,7-mm machine guns or automatic grenade launchers and with a paired light machine gun. Modules similar to Kongsberg's Dual Remote Weapon Station module allow the shooter to quickly switch between large and small caliber, besides, they are usually installed on the seats of previous models and use the displays of their predecessors.
The new armament program provides for an increase in the fire power of the Stryker armored vehicles through the installation of a module MCRWS (Medium Caliber Remote Weapons Station) with an 30-mm gun. In May, the US Army 2015 approved applications for operational needs from the 2 Motorized Regiment stationed in Europe to increase the mortality of the Stryker machines. The initial funding of the 81 system was included in the army budget for the 2016 year in the form of an accelerated program.
In December 2015, GDLS selected the Kongsberg MCT 30 mm module, which was already demonstrated in the 2010 and 2014 years. The MCT30 is a remote-controlled turret with an Orbital ATK 30-mm XM813 cannon. It has a no-feed feeder from Meggitt with 150 ammunition ready-made shells in two shell boxes located on the sides of the gun. The gun mask is mounted 7,62-mm machine gun.
The tower does not occupy space inside the vehicle and provides access to the armament from inside the hull. The Vice-President of Orbital ATK explained: “The XM813 cannon is based on the MK44 Bushmaster II external power gun. Ammunition includes armor-piercing incendiary, high-explosive fragmentation incendiary, armor-piercing sub-caliber projectiles and the new programmable air-launched MK310 munitions. Such a set of shots provides ample opportunities and enhanced impact on the target. "
Reese noted that “the development is likely to be accelerated due to the priority work of GDLS and Kongsberg, we do not think that there are high technical risks”, adding that the company expects to test Stryker with the MCRWS module in the first half of 2016 year, and the supply of mass-produced products to begin in 2018 year.
In fact, as was often the case with Stryker machines, GDLS worked closely with them on the army and soon, 16 January 2016, received a contract from her command to install, integrate and deliver eight prototypes. Although today only the 2 motorized infantry regiment is planned to be equipped with 30-mm armament, a general from the management of ground combat systems programs said at the AUSA 2015 exhibition that the army would like to extend this trend to other units with Stryker armored vehicles in the future.
Self-propelled artillery installation
Self-propelled artillery installation Stryker MGS (Mobile Gun System), despite the fact that it offers unique opportunities for the American army, was at one time the object of significant disagreement. Its 105-mm M68 gun (mounted on M60 tanks and the first M1 MBT) is installed in an uninhabited low-profile fully stabilized turret with a rotating automatic loader manufactured by Curtiss-Wright.
This 105-mm gun is known for its versatility, for it there is a wide range of types of ammunition optimized for many purposes. Warheads these munitions include armor-piercing, high-explosive, cumulative, explosive with plastic explosive (the British Army received term "co crushes the head part"), cassette (anti short range XM1040), smoke (ideal for marking purposes and the placement of the veil ). Armored piercing piercing projectile with a core of depleted uranium is able to hit most of the armored vehicles, including MBT.
According to first-hand information, the MGS self-propelled unit had a good reputation for fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, where it performed tasks that other combat vehicles could not perform. Her ability to quickly travel long distances allowed her to accompany and provide close support with direct fire from Stryker units.
The fire power of some of the MGS projectiles expanded the capabilities of the original Stryker platform. With a weight of 18770, kg is the heaviest member of the family (ICV weighs 17240 kg). One would expect that the suspension upgrade, which is part of the DVH kit, the upgrade of the 30-mm gun and the optional 225-6630 kg would help cope with the stabilization and driving performance problems of the MGS.
A similar upgrade for MGS has not yet been planned, although a number of other improvements are underway. In fact, the army reduced the number of MGS in each SBCT brigade from 27 to 10 vehicles, despite its unique combat configuration. Some suggest that this reflects historical skepticism in the US military in relation to the main guns of light vehicles. Whether this is true or not, GDLS claims that all the problems identified for MGS will be resolved and the first of them will be delivered to combat units in April 2016.
Another option Stryker M1134 - self-propelled ATGM with TOW-2 missiles - provides anti-tank and armor-piercing capabilities at long range. Its twin wire-based TOW-2 missile launcher can hit targets day and night at ranges up to 3750 meters using day and thermal sights. The unit is stabilized, which allows you to monitor and capture targets while moving. However, the process of combat use requires that the machine be in place during the flight of the rocket. A hatchback lid allows the operator to recharge the launcher. The M1134 self-propelled ATGM is capable of providing surveillance and fire support to Stryker's advanced combat units.
A regular means of providing fire support from closed positions for the SBCT brigade is the Stryker M1129 Mortar Carrier or MCV-B self-propelled mortar. Its 120-mm smoothbore mortar M121, mounted on a turntable, allows all round fire on the 360 °. The mortar has a range of 7200 meters and can fire various ammunition, including high-explosive, smoke, lighting, and Guided Mortar Munition mines with GPS guidance from Orbital ATK Precision. The mortar is often called the “commander’s pocket artillery,” because it can quickly solve operational needs. Stryker MCV can also transport 81-mm or 60-mm portable mortars for firing from the ground by dismounting.
The M1128 Mobile Gun System self-propelled gun mount has a stabilized 105-mm tank gun and a twin-7,62-mm machine gun M249
The general trend at the moment is the increase in the SBCT combat brigade of the number of personnel of engineering units. The reorganization of the staff battalion of the brigade is due to a significant amount of engineering support tasks, which require qualified personnel and special equipment.
Mobility is the key to the success of the SBCT brigade. And to ensure this mobility is the task of the M1132 Engineer Squad Vehicle (ESV) machine. Each ESV is equipped with the M151 OBD, a dozer blade or roller mine trawl is installed ahead, often using the Peart Engineering universal quick-install kit Jettison Fitting Kit (JFK). In addition, an engineering vehicle can tow a wheeled trailer with tools, equipment and materials.
Engineering Machine Stryker M1132
Universal Quick Installation Kit Jettison Fitting Kit
The JFK (mechanical, hydraulic, electric) kit interface allows you to quickly and easily install, remove (10 minutes) and change various mounted systems, including anti-mine (plow or roller trawl), dozer blade, minefield markings and bridge guidance. The lack of means of overcoming ditches and similar obstacles in the SBCT brigade is a concern for the command, but this could be solved with the adoption of the bridge guidance system BLM (Bridge Launch Mechanism) and the bridge itself. The BLM system underwent an evaluation test at the start of the 2015 of the year during the evaluation process of the expeditionary capabilities of the American army.
Space for improvement
Throughout the life of the Stryker program, the army, together with GDLS, continued to determine areas of development, many of which were implemented by “blocks” included either in serial configurations of new machines or in recovery programs according to which old or damaged Stryker machines undergo major repairs. The latter approach was successfully applied in the DVH upgrade program.
In November, 2015, the company GDLS announced its latest proposal for making changes to the design of the Stryker. Steiger said the following about this: “The previous changes focused mainly on survivability. The current modernization kit aims to improve mobility and reliability. It is based on some new methods and components, as well as a redesign to improve performance and solve problems identified in actual operation. ”
The changes consist in a more powerful cooling system, in greater energy production for consumers, larger wheels with a more pronounced tread pattern, as well as several modifications aimed at improving ergonomics, including simplifying operation.
“These changes, although often not obvious, will provide significant operational benefits and reduce life cycle costs,” continued Steiger. GDLS has announced its readiness to implement its proposals in a phased program.
Mr. Reese added in this connection: “After the implementation of these proposals on the machines, the army must complete the control tests by July 2016. Then, after receiving a positive conclusion, we will deliver our ICV machines in a new configuration in 2017. ”
Future machine stryker
World events of recent years have increased the need for deployable highly mobile forces that are well adapted to various changing combat missions. The SBCT brigades, like the Stryker family of machines, have demonstrated their ability to meet the above requirements. This is an example of the successful integration of special equipment and weapons with the operational concept.
An active program to identify deficiencies, develop upgrades and implement them allowed Stryker machines to remain in service. This lively, almost unprecedented dialogue between industry and the army, between engineers and operators of the LAV, Piranha and Stryker platforms made a decisive contribution to the current demand for the entire fleet.
Increasing the fire power of the 2's motorized regiment demonstrates the ability of the Stryker to respond to the changing threats and demands of new combat missions. The interest of Chile and Colombia indicates a wide recognition of the capabilities and operational flexibility of Stryker machines. The SBCT brigades and their Stryker vehicles provide the US Army with, perhaps, combat capabilities with which the capabilities of any other armed forces cannot be compared.