January 28, 2014:
The U.S. Army wants to buy enough of the new Double-V Hull (DVH) wheeled armored vehicles to equip all nine Stryker brigades. Currently it looks like there will only be enough money to equip three brigades with the DVH model.
Stryker acquired a good reputation in Iraq and there has been a lot of foreign interest in that, and wheeled armored vehicles in general. But money is short and likely to continue to be tight for a decade or more. So the 600 older Strykers replaced by DVH models in the DVH brigades will be put into storage along with the specialized production equipment for Stryker in the hope that eventually the money will be available. Before that some older Strykers were converted to DVH models to provide enough DVH Strykers for the third DVH brigade.
This DVH design is intended to improve resistance to mines (more common in Afghanistan than Iraq) by adding a V shaped bottom. This is one of the key elements of the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) design, but the DVH is cheaper to operate and better suited to a wider array of missions.
Some of the DVH prototypes were run (via remote control), over mines and roadside bombs. These tests demonstrated that the V shaped hull made the vehicles much safer. Developing the new prototype design cost about $58 million. There are 762 DVH Strykers in service with the last of them delivered in 2013. The DVH models cost about $2.1 million each and first experienced combat in 2011. They performed as expected.
The army initially bought enough DVH models to equip two Stryker brigades. Each Stryker brigade has 332 Stryker vehicles. There are ten different models, but most are the infantry carrier version. The original Stryker cost about a million dollars each, plus the costs of weapons and equipment. This version is 6.95 meters (22.92 feet) long, 2.72 meters (8.97 feet) high, and 2.64 meters (8.72 feet) wide. Weighing 17 tons, it has a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour and a range (on roads) of 500 kilometers. Stryker has a crew of two, a turret with a remotely controlled 12.7mm machine-gun, and can carry nine troops. A 7.62mm machine-gun is also carried and often another 12.7mm one as well.
The army is planning on incorporating the V shaped hull into the new Stryker 2.0 design, which makes DVH models Stryker 1.5 (unofficially). The Stryker 2 will weigh about a ton more than current models and have a more powerful engine (450 horsepower versus the current 350), plus a suspension system and other mechanical components upgraded to support up to 27 tons, larger tires, improved brakes, and improved sensors (so that troops inside the vehicle will have better awareness of what's outside). These are the major modifications, there will be several more minor ones (better air conditioning, a sniper detector, more electricity generation, and so on). Outwards appearance won't change much, other than the V shape hull.
Stryker 2 provides for "growth" (more armor and equipment) as well as making the vehicle more agile and reliable. The changes are based on user feedback and are considered a modernization project, not, strictly speaking, a new version of Stryker. Most of the 3,300 Strykers the army has have been in combat, and units headed for Afghanistan were the first to get the modernized ones.
Meanwhile the manufacturer of the Stryker DVH created a model that runs on tracks (like a tank or bulldozer). This demonstration model was shown off at trade shows as a replacement for the thousands of boxy M113 armored vehicles being retired by the U.S. and many foreign users. The tracked Stryker had one obvious disadvantage; it is bigger and heavier (at 32 tons). A tracked model would overcome one problem with Stryker (or any wheeled armored vehicle), the difficulty with muddy or rough terrain. On roads or flat terrain wheels are superior to tracks. There was not enough interest to justify the expense of turning the demonstrator into a production model. The big problem is getting any sales when the American defense budget is facing severe cuts over the next decade. There’s always the prospect of overseas sales. Stryker acquired a good reputation in Iraq and oil-rich Arab Persian Gulf countries are major buyers of weapons these days. But you need to sell a lot of tracked Strykers to pay for development and a foreign order that big was not found.