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FrankenStryker Makes An Appearance
by James Dunnigan
December 3, 2012

The manufacturer of the U.S. Army Stryker Double-V Hull (DVH) wheeled armored vehicle has created a model that runs on tracks (like a tank or bulldozer). This is a demonstration model, for presentation at trade shows. While the tracked Stryker runs, it does not do so very long or reliably. But spend enough time and money on it and you would have a reliable tracked Stryker. The big problem is getting any sales for such a beast. That is unlikely at this point, with the American defense budget 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.

There are 762 DVH Strykers built or on order. Most have been delivered (to the U.S. Army), and the rest will arrive by next year. The latest DVH models cost about $2.1 million each. The DVH models first experienced combat earlier last year and performed as expected. The army is buying enough DVH models to equip two of its eight Stryker brigades. 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.

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. Some of the 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.

Each Stryker brigade has 332 Stryker vehicles. There are ten different models, but most are the infantry carrier version. The current model Stryker costs 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, making the recently ordered V hull 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 will be first to get the modernized ones.

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