Armor: Stryker Clones Displace Tracks in Europe


March 2, 2006: More and more European armies, whether in NATO or not, are going over to wheeled armored vehicles. Some are likely to abandon tracked armored vehicles entirely, given current mission requirements (i.e., the increasing demands for troops trained and equipped for "peace and stability" operations). Among armies that have adopted or have announced that they will adopt wheeled armored vehicles are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Span, and Switzerland. In addition, a number of other armies outside of Europe are taking this route, either wholly or in part, including Canada, New Zealand, and the U.S., as well as Botswana, Chile, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

The most popular European wheeled armored vehicles are:

Pandur II- An Austrian-built 6 x 6 armored personnel carrier, weighting about 15 tons, able to make up to. 100 kilometers an hour on land and 6 on water, armed with anything up to a 90-mm cannon. A somewhat larger 8x8 version can tote a 105-mm gun.

Piranha III—A Swiss built 6 x 6 APC, weighing 11 tons, able to make some 100 kilometers an hour on land and capable of being armed with a variety of cannon or rocket launchers, up to 90-mm. There are also 4x4 and 8x8 variants.

Centauro B-1—An Italian-bult 8 x 8 armored reconnaissance vehicle, that's essentially a light tank without a tread, weighing 24 tons and able to make 100 kilometers an hour, armed with a 105-mm gun in a turret, plus machine guns. There are a number of variants.

When the United States Army went looking for a wheeled armored vehicle a decade ago, it looked at all the above vehicles, but chose a similar one (LAV III) made by General Motors Defense of Canada, as the basis for Stryker vehicles. General Motors Defense now owns the company that makes the Piranha III. The Strykers are heavier, more expensive and more capable that other wheeled armored vehicles. The Stryker is criticized, for all that, but its success in Iraq has quieted a lot of the criticism.

The success of the Stryker in combat has encouraged many nations to go with wheeled armored vehicles. The fact that the combat in Iraq is similar to what is faced in most peacekeeping missions was also noted. As a result, nations going with wheeled armored vehicles are giving serious consideration to the more expensive (as in twice as much) Stryker type vehicles. This means investing a lot more in electronics, sensors and communications gear (which is what makes the Stryker so much more expensive.)


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