Murphy's Law: Stryker Gets Grounded


July 23, 2006: Ever since the idea of light armor (Stryker) brigades was introduced in the late 1990s, one of the big selling points was the ability of the C-130 to carry the light armor vehicles to distant battlefields on short notice. Over the years, three serious problems developed with that concept, that have rendered it useless. First, there were never enough C-130s available to move a large number of Stryker vehicles (300 per brigade) anywhere on short notice. The U.S. Air Force has a policy of seeing to their own needs first, which would tie up most of the C-130s. Moreover, the air force does not like to use the C-130s for large scale transoceanic movements. This requires too many refueling stops. Moreover, the air force sees the C-130 as a theater transport. That is, the aircraft can be flown to any part of the world, but once there, it would move people and cargo shorter distances (under a thousand kilometers). Larger aircraft, like the C-17 and C-5 could carry Strykers across oceans, but there weren't enough of these aircraft available to move a meaningful number of Strykers. Certainly no where near the number the army was planning on moving. The army and the air force were never able to come to terms on the air movement issue.
Then there was growth in size and weight of some models of Stryker, making it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to move some variants of the Stryker in a C-130. After years of confronting all these problems, it became pretty clear to Pentagon planners that any use of Stryker would involve moving nearly all of them by ship. There might be a few extreme cases where a small number of Strykers would be moved by air, either within a theater or across an ocean. Recently, the idea that large numbers of Strykers, would ever be moved by air, has been heard much less. The cumulative problems with the concept has pretty much removed it from the Pentagon playbook.


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