Armor: Sons of Stryker Spread

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August 8, 2007: Finnish weapons maker Patria has found yet another customer for its AMV (Advanced Modular Vehicle) 8x8 armored vehicles. Croatia is buying 84 of them. Four years ago, the first export sale of the AMV was made to Poland ($1.2 billion for 313 combat vehicles, each with a 30mm Bushmaster 2 autocannon, 377 other AMV variants). Most of the AMVs are 8x8, but some are 6x6 's. AMVs weight from 16-28 tons, have a crew of three and can carry up to ten passengers. Poland got its first vehicles in 2004, and will continue to receive them until 2013. For both the Polish and Croatian sale, most vehicle assembly will be moved to the country getting the vehicles. This will make it easier to perform maintenance and upgrades on the vehicles over their 10-20 year life.

Last year Slovenia ordered 135 AMVs. Earlier this year, South African firm Denel purchased AMV technology, in order to design and build one for use in Africa. Finland has also purchased 86 AMvs.

Wheeled armored vehicles have become the hot item everywhere on the planet, especially in the last six years. The American Stryker vehicle is just part of the trend. However, the success of the Stryker in Iraq has encouraged more orders for wheeled armored vehicles, which are faster on roads, and cheaper and easier to maintain. The main manufacturers are Patria (Finnish), Steyr (Austrian, but owned by General Dynamics), Mowag (Austrian, also owned by General Dynamics) and the BTR line (an old series of Russian vehicles, currently built by two Russian firms.) There are other manufacturers, but the above firms have most of the business for traditional wheeled armored vehicles.

These are 6x6 or 8x8 vehicles weighing from 12-20+ tons. The most serious competition is coming from armored trucks, using design innovations pioneered by South African firms. These armored trucks, best represented by the Cougar vehicle used by the U.S. Army and Marines, are 4x4 vehicles that are about have the weight of the usual wheeled armored vehicles. The armored trucks are also less than half the cost of the wheeled armored vehicles, yet provide similar carrying capacity and protection. This is an end to the Cold War arms race to produce more powerful, and expensive, "infantry fighting vehicles" (IFV). These ran on tracks, like tanks, and had gotten nearly as heavy as the lighter tanks. But these beasts were too expensive, especially when most armies were looking at more peacekeeping in their futures, or some other kind of police work.

 


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