Stryker gets new armor, decreases in weight

Pictured is the Stryker infantry carrier vehicle
Variants of the Stryker interim armored vehicle, such as this infantry carrier vehicle, will be tested by the Army Test and Evaluation Command. (Photo courtesy of General Dynamics Land Systems Division).(Click on the photo to view a higher resolution photo))

by Staff Sgt. Marcia Triggs

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 9, 2002) - After putting pieces of the Army's newest combat vehicle through a storm of ammunition, officials discovered that the initial armor proposed by the contractor was not suitable.

But changes are expected to be made in time for the unveiling of the first American-manufactured Stryker by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki April 12 at the plant in Anniston Army Depot, Ala., said Maj. Steven Wall, operations officer with Project Manager Brigade Combat Team.

Since October 2001, the Stryker has been undergoing coupon testing, which is taking small squares of armor and firing at it with various caliber weapons and munitions at varying distances, Wall said.

"We were able to identify a risk and solve it prior to the first vehicle being built," Wall said. "We saved dollars in retrofitting, cost production and we're going to be able to keep the fielding schedule."

When modifications are made to the armor, the vehicle will be able to stop 7.62mm and 14.5mm armor piercing ammunitions, Wall said. He said the armor modifications could not be explained in detail due to security.

Reducing its weight is another modification the Stryker will undergo before the vehicles arrive in May at 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, both located at Fort Lewis, Wash.

The Stryker was reported to be 4,000 pounds more than the 38,000-pound requirement. However, Wall said that he expects that the vehicles will meet weight limits, which will allow them to be loaded and transported on a C-130 cargo plane. This is a requirement necessary to meet Shinseki's goal of having brigade combat teams that can deploy anywhere in the world within four days.

An aggressive weight management team has been routinely meeting to discuss all options available to reduce the weight of the vehicle, Wall said.

Ongoing testing will continue because each variant of the Stryker requires slightly different testing, Wall said.

One way testing will continue is through a virtual reality booth, known as the cave. It lets engineers, contractors and users identify possible problems and improve the vehicle.

"While standing at a three-dimensional booth," Wall said, "we've been able to modify seats, change wiring, cable locations and many other items through early involvement with the contractors -- General Motors and General Dynamics Land Systems."

Also an Army Transformation Technical Test Office at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., was opened in March to assist in the fielding of the Stryker and ultimately the Future Combat Systems.

Many of the new weapon systems the Army is trying to field have failed to make the grade when it comes time for operational tests using soldiers, said Maj. Gen. John Marcello, the Army Test and Evaluation Command commander.

"The Army's developmental test program will focus on helping program managers avoid schedule delays and deliver high-quality weapons and equipment to the field," Marcello said.

(Editor's note: Mike Cast from the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command also contributed to the story.)